Archive for Saturday, November 2, 2002

Priest wants sentence revised

November 2, 2002


A Catholic priest convicted of taking indecent liberties with a teenager wants his prison sentence reconsidered by a Douglas County district judge.

Steve Mirakian, attorney for the Rev. Dennis Schmitz, said he would file a motion next week asking Judge Michael Malone to again consider sending Schmitz to a center where he could receive psychological counseling instead of serving time in prison.

Last month, Malone ordered Schmitz to serve 32 months in prison and rejected a motion to send the 41-year-old priest for counseling at a St. Louis mental health center. Mirakian said Malone didn't like the idea of Schmitz receiving treatment outside Kansas or at a center where he would be an outpatient.

"There are no programs in Kansas for nonviolent sexual and nonsexual predator offenders," Mirakian said.

Moreover, there are no such programs offered through the Kansas Department of Corrections, which oversees the prisons, Mirakian said. The judge had said he might consider releasing Schmitz to get treatment if no treatment programs were available in prison.

Mirakian declined to identify the new treatment program he would recommend for Schmitz.

In June, Schmitz was charged in Douglas County with taking indecent liberties with a 15-year-old boy. The incident occurred in 1998. In October, he pleaded guilty to the charge. The victim, now 19, is a Johnson County resident.

Schmitz was a Catholic priest living in Lawrence and recruiting candidates for the priesthood from the mid-1990s until July 2001.

Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney said her office would file a response to Mirakian's motion once it was filed. She declined to comment further.

Schmitz also was charged with indecent liberties in Nemaha County involving the same victim. He allegedly fondled the boy at a ranch Schmitz owns near Seneca.

On Thursday, Schmitz pleaded innocent to the Nemaha County charge. A trial was set for Jan. 22. Plea agreement negotiations are continuing with the county attorney, Mirakian said. A pre-trial conference will be conducted Dec. 13.

Schmitz was taken to the Douglas County Jail after Malone sentenced him. He remained in the jail Friday.

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