A popular, long-time priest has been removed from his duties because of an allegation dating back to the 1970’s.
Father Mel Thompson of St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial was released from his priestly duties after the Archdiocese of Denver received a tip from an adult male last Wednesday. The man said Thompson sexually assaulted him in the early 1970’s.
Thompson’s dismissal has raised questions about civil and criminal law. It is clear that the statute of limitations has run its course in this case and law enforcement will not be able to prosecute the case.
Some have argued that the laws need to be changed. They argue that there is no statute of limitations for murder, for treason, for forgery. They argue that the “no limit” provision that now applies to Sexual Assaults on Children that have been committed today should be made retroactive. In Father Mel’s case if the crime were to occur today, the statute of limitations would not bar his prosecution.
But the change in the statute of limitations for Colorado Sexual Assault on Children cases was not made retroactive and therefore would not apply to acts that may or may not have occurred in the early 1970’s when this assault allegedly happened.
If you have been charged with a case of Sexual Assault it is important that you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Filing appropriate motions to dismiss and exclude evidence can often be the difference between walking away from the charges and being convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor.
Archbishop Chaput removes Centennial priest accused of abuse, The Colorado Independent, April 12, 2010.