Judge Denies Plea Agreement By Teacher In Church Abuse Charges

Wave3.com/January 28, 2003

Louisville -- A Jefferson County Circuit judge rejected a plea agreement Tuesday for a Catholic school teacher accused of sexual abuse and set a trial date.

Judge Kenneth Conliffe ordered a Feb. 25 jury trial for Joseph B. Greene III, who was indicted in April on 18 felony charges, including 14 counts of sodomy and four counts of sexual abuse, said Debbie Linnig Michals, a spokeswoman for Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Greene, 56, of Louisville, taught fifth grade at Our Lady of Lourdes School before the allegations surfaced. He has since been suspended without pay, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville.

Greene initially was charged with 12 counts of sodomy and four counts of sexual abuse for alleged sexual contact with one boy over a four-year period. But charges were added later when a man in his late 30s told police that in the 1970s he was sexually abused by Greene, who was his teacher at Ascension School in Louisville. The boy was 11 to 15 years old during the alleged abuse.

The expanded indictment also includes allegations that an older brother was sexually abused by Greene in 1974 and 1975, when the boy was 14 to 16.

Greene had previously pleaded innocent to all charges. On Dec. 10, Greene entered an Alford plea, meaning he did not admit guilt, but acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict him. The court then ordered Tuesday's hearing to determine whether Greene should receive probation or a prison sentence -- which could have been up to 20 years, according to court records.

Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Fantoni had said the state would object to probation.

However, at Tuesday's hearing Conliffe denied the Alford plea and ordered a jury trial.

Greene's attorney, David Lambertus of Louisville, would not comment on Conliffe's order.

A call to Fantoni's office Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Greene is also named in two of the 211 lawsuits pending against the archdiocese, accusing the church of covering up abuse for decades.

No other teachers employed by the archdiocese are facing criminal charges, only three priests. The Rev. Louis E. Miller is scheduled to stand trial in March in Jefferson County, and in June in neighboring Oldham County.

The Rev. Daniel C. Clark, who faces charges in Bullitt County, will also stand trial in March. A trial date has not yet been set for the Rev. James Hargadon, who faces felony counts in Jefferson and Grayson counties.

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