Calif. Priest Was Immature, Obsessed By Kids

Peers were suspicious of Stephen Kiesle from the start
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 11, 2010 8:55 AM CDT
Calif. Priest Was Immature, Obsessed By Kids
This May 17, 2002 booking photo shows former priest Stephen Kiesle.   ((AP Photo))

Even in his seminary days in the early '70s, there were questions about California priest Stephen Kiesle: "He was not grown up. He spent more time with kids than with people his own age. You get suspicious of that. There's something wrong there," says a former Oakland bishop. Still, future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas from the diocese to act on the case, according to a 1985 letter in Latin that bore his signature as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Kiesle pleaded no contest in 1978 to lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two boys. He took a leave of absence, and in 1981 asked the Oakland bishop to be removed from the priesthood. As Kiesle's fate was being weighed in Rome, a glacial process that some say was typical of the time, he returned to volunteer as a youth minister at St. Joseph Church. He was eventually defrocked in 1987, and is now a registered sex offender. (More Stephen Kiesle stories.)

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