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Archive for Thursday, July 29, 2004

Abusive priest up for parole

July 29, 2004

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— Victims of a defrocked Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to molesting four young men vowed to fight his release from prison.

Today, Robert Larson is scheduled to go before the Kansas Parole Board -- the same body that refused him early release from Lansing Correctional Facility nearly two years ago.

Larson was a priest in the Diocese of Wichita for 30 years before being removed in 1998 under allegations of misconduct. Three years ago, he admitted molesting three altar boys and a teenage boy at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Newton. He was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison.

"I think the guy needs to stay in jail," said Paul Schwartz, 34, one of the former altar boys Larson admitted molesting.

When Larson was last up for parole two years ago, his supporters urged the board for mercy. But Janet Patterson of Conway Springs, a member of the national board of directors for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the board must look at the crimes Larson committed.

"This has nothing to do with mercy or forgiveness," said Patterson, whose oldest son, Eric, committed suicide in 1999 after telling his family Larson molested him when he was an altar boy in the early 1980s. "This is about looking at the crime and the damages that are done."

Larson has denied molesting Eric Patterson.

Larson can't be held in prison any later than March 29, 2006.

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