Former priest facing molestation charges
January 13, 2004
A date of March 9 has been set for the criminal trial of former Fremont priest Stephen Kiesle who has been accused of molesting a young girl at his vacation home in Tahoe Donner. Kiesle will face two criminal counts including molesting a minor under the age of 14 and another related charge.
A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 20 in Truckee, and prosecutors and defense attorneys will consider potential plea bargains that would keep the case from going to a jury trial.
Kiesle, 56, was arrested May 16, 2002 after a month-long investigation by the Fremont Police Department spurred by two sisters’ allegations that Kiesle sexually abused them while they were minors.
Kiesle eventually faced 13 criminal charges of molesting young girls. However, 11 of those charges were wiped out when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down California’s law allowing for the prosecution of child molestation suspects within one year after the abuse is reported to police, regardless of how long it’s been since the crime was committed, according to Fremont’s The Argus newspaper.
The court ruled that California could not apply the law retroactively to prosecute child molestation suspects for crimes that took place before 1988.
The two remaining criminal charges stem from evidence uncovered by the Truckee Police Department of Kiesle’s alleged molestation of a young girl in Truckee during the summer of 1995.
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Prosecutor and Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Chuck O’Rourke preferred not to comment on the upcoming trial, and Kiesle’s defense attorney did not return phone calls from the Sierra Sun asking for comment.
In addition to the criminal charges, Kiesle also faces a civil suit filed by seven women who allege he sexually abused them while they were minors. Kiesle left the priesthood in 1981 after pleading no contest to molesting two boys while serving at a Union City Catholic church in 1978.
Kiesle’s criminal trial is scheduled to take place in the Nevada County Superior Court in Nevada City on March 9, starting at 9 a.m.