Calif. Priest Was Immature, Obsessed By Kids

Peers were suspicious of Stephen Kiesle from the start
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 11, 2010 8:55 AM CDT
This May 17, 2002 booking photo shows former priest Stephen Kiesle.   ((AP Photo))
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(Newser) – Even in his seminary days in the early '70s, there were questions about California priest Stephen Kiesle: "He was not grown up. He spent more time with kids than with people his own age. You get suspicious of that. There's something wrong there," says a former Oakland bishop. Still, future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas from the diocese to act on the case, according to a 1985 letter in Latin that bore his signature as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Kiesle pleaded no contest in 1978 to lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two boys. He took a leave of absence, and in 1981 asked the Oakland bishop to be removed from the priesthood. As Kiesle's fate was being weighed in Rome, a glacial process that some say was typical of the time, he returned to volunteer as a youth minister at St. Joseph Church. He was eventually defrocked in 1987, and is now a registered sex offender.

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