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Prosecutors: Priest Began Abusing Young Girls In The 60's

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Jurors in the clergy abuse case have pored over church documents to look at the career of a defrocked priest, who is not on trial. The prosecution was attempting to show the lengths to which the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had allegedly perpetuated a policy of moving around 'problem priests.'

The allegations against the Reverend Nicholas Cudemo began in the mid 1960's, according to church records. Prosecutors detailed nine mostly young girls who made complaints against him, including three relatives, through the 70's and 80's, up to and including 1991.

That's when one alleged victim's family filed a lawsuit against Cudemo and the Archdiocese. Within days, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua asked that Cudemo withdraw from his parish, until an evaluation was done.

Cudemo went on administrative leave from 1992 through 1996, and was defrocked in 2005.

The jury looked at church records of correspondence, meetings and phone calls over the years, as Cudemo was transfered to various parishes. As the allegations of molestation piled up, Cudemo used phrases like he 'was attracted to young girls, but there were no sexual overtones.' He said he just wanted to 'be friendly and counsel them.'

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