CBSN

Priest Pleads Guilty To Sex Abuse

Suspended Catholic priest Rudolph Kos pleaded guilty Tuesday to three counts of sexually molesting altar boys, but prosecutors went forward with five more counts against him.

The pleas came before trial began on five other sexual assault and indecency counts accusing Kos of sexually assaulting four boys in his charge.

Kos pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child as the trial began. State District Judge Janice L. Warder said Kos could be sentenced to two to 20 years in prison for those pleas.

Kos pleaded innocent to three counts of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of indecency with a child. Conviction on the aggravated counts could mean life imprisonment.

Prosecutor Howard Blackman told jurors that Kos abused the power of the priesthood to prey on the altar boys.

"He assumed control of the altar servers and turned this program into a flesh pool into which he recruited his victims," Blackman said. "Evidence will show how this man, who was supposed to be their spiritual guide, used them for his own selfish sexual gratification."

Defense attorneys deferred their opening statement until the prosecution completes its case.

The first witness was an 18-year-old former altar boy, who recalled how he and other boys spent much time with Kos—watching movies, playing video games, having sleep-overs, and even making two trips to a farm near Houston that Kos' family owned.

He recalled one occasion when he and Kos shared a blanket as they watched a movie on television. He testified that he felt Kos press his foot against his groin.

"I felt weird. I was trying not to pay any attention to it, just watching the movie," the man testified.

Blackman asked why he didn't object.

"For one thing, he's a priest. I didn't think he could do anything wrong, anything to hurt people," the man testified.

A civil trial of a lawsuit against Kos and the Catholic Diocese of Dallas last summer resulted in a $119.6 million verdict, the largest monetary judgment of any clergy sex-abuse case in U.S. history.

In the criminal case, Kos had pleaded innocent to charges involving four young men who told police they were molested about 1,350 times.

Prosecutors in the criminal trial will be required to prove that Kos molested the boys. In the civil trial, the truth of the allegations was not at issue so much as whether the diocese tried to cover up the boys' allegations against Kos.

According to testimony during the 11-week civil trial, Kos sexually abused boys during a period from 1981 to 1992 at churches in Dallas, Ennis and Irving.

Written by Melissa Williams.
©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed