Priest to serve at least 14 years for sexual abuse

Rocky Mountain News/May 30, 2007
By Lisa Ryckman

Timothy Evans, a priest convicted in two counties of sexually abusing boys he was supposed to be counseling, will serve at least 14 years in a state prison, a Larimer County judge ruled today.

The court handed down what’s called an "indeterminate" sentence, setting a minimum of 14 years while leaving the maximum, which could be as much as life, to the discretion of the parole board. The board would base its determination, in part, on the inmate’s behavior and rehabilitation efforts while behind bars.

The courtroom this morning was packed with supporters of Evans as well as families and friends of his victims.

Scott Berry, who attended seminary with Evans 22 years ago, called him compassionate, intelligent and caring.

"He’s made an impact on so many lives," Berry said during the sentencing hearing. "He’s helped so many people."

Several people asked for leniency for Evans. Judge Jolene Blair said she had received a packet of more than 50 letters in support of Evans.

Mary Craig, a friend and parishioner, told the court that Evans is a "talented leader, teacher, counselor, mentor and wonderful and loyal friend."

"Tim is an intelligent and highly gifted human being," Craig said. "I ask you not to waste his life in prison."

Two of Evans’ victims called him a manipulative sexual predator.

"This man is extremely manipulative and conniving," one man told the court. "To this day, I experience nightmares from his crime."

Evans also addressed the court. He made no apologies and said that he would be appealing his conviction.

"I was, and am, a joyful servant of the Lord," he said. "I may love recklessly and foolishly, but I love unconditionally."

Evans, 44, who was found guilty in March of two counts of sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust and engaging in a pattern of abuse, said he hoped his sentence would promote healing.

He has also been convicted in Jefferson County on similar charges and is awaiting sentencing there.

Evans, who worked at the Spirit of Christ Community Church in Arvada and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Fort Collins, is the first Catholic priest to be convicted of criminal sex charges in Colorado since 2002, when sweeping allegations of abuse by the clergy surfaced nationally.

Last month, one of the victims filed a civil lawsuit against Evans and the Archdiocese of Denver, accusing the church of intentionally concealing the priest’s conduct.

In a statement this morning, Archbishop Charles Chaput offered the archdiocese’s prayers and support to Evans’ victims and their families.

"It is the strict policy of the Archdiocese of Denver not to permit any priest who has a credible claim of abuse against a minor to serve in ministry in the archdiocese," the statement said. "In line with this policy, the archdiocese removed Timothy Evans from ministry immediately after receiving the first allegation of abuse of a minor against him. We will continue our efforts to protect children and families from sexual abuse now and in the future."

During the two trials, victims testified that Evans wrestled with them and fondled them during what were supposed to be trust-building exercise.

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