Former priest sentenced to six years for molestation
Former priest Stephen Kiesle was sentenced to six years in state prison Tuesday for molesting a young girl in his Tahoe Donner vacation home during the summer of 1995.Tuesday’s sentencing in Truckee by Nevada County Superior Court Judge C. Anders Holmer followed Kiesle’s Jan. 20 “no contest” plea to one count of molesting a minor under 14 years of age, a felony.In addition to his jail time, Kiesle, 57, will be on parole for three years after his release from prison, must pay fines totaling $2,670 and will be required to give blood and fingerprint samples for law enforcement identification analysis. He will also be required to register with local law enforcement agencies as a sex offender for the rest of his life.Kiesle, from the Bay Area town of Pinole, was given 138 days credit for time served toward his six-year sentence. At the minimum he will have to serve 85 percent of his six-year sentence in jail.Kiesle’s victim and her family were present in court when the sentence was announced. They reacted with mixed emotions to the sentence. The victim’s mother said she was thankful that Kiesle would be spending the next six years in jail. “We’re just happy that he got something [jail time]… For us, there’s closure now. And our daughter can go back with her life.”This is what we hoped for, but honestly we thought, given the way things go with these cases, that he could have gotten off on probation. In our hearts we knew he shouldn’t, and we’re going to thank Chuck [O’Rourke] for that.”The prosecutor, Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Chuck O’Rourke, was also pleased with the sentence.”The victim has been vindicated as much as she can be, and hopefully she can get on with her life,” O’Rourke said. “We got what we could have gotten out of the case, and maybe a lot more than a lot of people will realize.””At least for 85 percent of the next six years, society and children in California will be safe from him,” he added.That sentiment was echoed by Truckee Police Detective CeCe Rose.”I’m very pleased with the outcome and I feel even better for the victim in this case because the victim really felt that her stepping forward put him away. It created an ending for her, so hopefully now she’ll be able to heal.”Kiesle’s attorney, Thomas Leupp, said he was not surprised by the sentence imposed.”This was exactly what we were expecting,” Leupp said, adding that he would not to make any additional comments.Originally faced with two felony charges in the case, Kiesle agreed to the no contest plea – the legal equivalent of pleading guilty – on the condition that he not be sentenced to more than six years in state prison – a mid-term sentence for such an offense.At issue in Tuesday’s sentencing hearing was whether Kiesle would still pose a threat to the victim and/or other children if he were to be given probation or a lighter sentence. Ultimately, Judge Holmer decided that Kiesle would serve the six-year term that was the maximum penalty agreed upon in Kiesle’s plea bargain.”I do find that the defendant would be a danger to others if granted probation,” Holmer said in sentencing Kiesle to the six-year term.Kiesle came to the attention of the Truckee Police Department after a month-long investigation by the Fremont Police Department into allegations made by two sisters that Kiesle sexually abused them while they were minors. Kiesle eventually faced 13 criminal charges of suspicion 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.The court ruled that California could not apply the law retroactively to prosecute child molestation suspects for crimes that took place before the 1988 law was put in place.The two remaining criminal charges stemmed from evidence uncovered by the Truckee Police Department of Kiesle’s molestation of a young girl in his Tahoe Donner vacation home during the summer of 1995.Kiesle was in the headlines again in June 2002 when investigators used shovels, backhoes and ground penetrating sonar around Kiesle’s Tahoe Donner vacation home in a search for human remains. The search was performed at the request of the Pinole Police Department who were investigating 8-year-old Amber Schwartz Garcia’s disappearance from her Pinole home in 1988. Kiesle lived down the street from Garcia at the time of her disappearance. No evidence was ever found at Kiesle’s house.Stephen Kiesle timeline• 1978 Kiesle convicted of tying up and molesting two boys at a Union City church while he was a Catholic priest.• 1981 Kiesle resigned from the priesthood.• May 16, 2002 Kiesle was arrested after a month-long investigation by the Fremont Police Department. He was taken into custody on three counts of child molestation and later freed on $180,000 bail. These and other charges were later dropped because the U.S. Supreme Court deemed them unconstitutional.• June 2002 Investigators dug in the yard of Kiesle’s Tahoe Donner vacation home searching for human remains in connection to the disappearance of Amber Schwartz Garcia from her Pinole home in June of 1988. No evidence was found.• Jan. 20, 2004 Kiesle pleaded “no contest” to one count of molesting a minor under 14 years of age, a charge stemming from his molestation of a young girl at his Tahoe Donner home in the summer of 1995.• June 1, 2004 Kiesle sentenced to six years in state prison at the Nevada County Superior Court in Truckee.