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The court also said Wenthe’s defense should have had an opportunity to raise the woman’s sexual history because prosecutors had opened the door by describing her as a virgin who was naive and vulnerable. In most rape cases, laws bar testimony about the sexual history of the victim.
In a news release, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) called the decision a “painful reminder why it’s so critical that every single person who sees, suspects or suffers clergy sex crimes speak up,” because, it said, multiple victims would have fortified a case against him. The group urged Choi to try the case again.
Wenthe was sentenced to a year in the workhouse — without work release — and has done his time, Engh said. Because of his conviction, he was also required to register as a predatory offender. Monday’s ruling negates his conviction and the requirement. If he were tried again and convicted, the only possible punishment would be the registration requirement.
Engh said his client would like to get back into the priesthood. “It’s his chosen profession,” the lawyer said.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 @rochelleolson