Advertisement

Court to look at church's role in abuse

SANTA ROSA, Calif., July 9 -- A case is headed for trial in Sonoma County to determine whether the Episcopalian Church knew a rector was sexually abusing teenage boys but allowed him continued access to youths. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper says new information has surfaced, six years after Francis Papworth was released from state prison.

Papworth, a former rector of Santa Rosa's Church of the Incarnation, spent four yours in custody after admitting to three counts of child molesting. Before he was sentenced, Papworth admitted to prosecutors that he preyed on boys throughout his 30-year career as a priest, first in Southern California and later in Sonoma County. He was arrested in 1986 after Healdsburg police found a photo album containing pictures of nude boys and other molestation evidence in his home. Papworth's ex-wife said their divorce was due to his obsession with young men, telling authorities about twice finding her husband in bed with naked boys. She said she told church authorities about the problem. At least one of the church members said the local bishop was informed of suspicions about Papworth. Church lawyers argued in court that too much time had passed to bring the issue to trial but Judge Laurence K. Sawyer ruled that a former parishioner may sue Papworth and the Episcopal hierarchy for fraud. Attorney William Daniels II told the newspaper that a decision in favor of his client, if upheld by appellate courts, could make churches and other employers permanently liable for employees who are transferred elsewhere after being accused of child molestation. Papworth now lives in Prescott, Ariz. ---

Advertisement
Advertisement

Copyright 1997 by United Press International. All rights reserved. ---

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement