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Boy Testifies In Sex Abuse Trial

Apr 22, 2003 | NEWSDAY

A 13-year-old Queens boy testified Tuesday that a Catholic priest became upset and ridiculed him after the boy rejected his sexual advances during a day trip to the Rockaways last year.

Speaking of the Rev. Peter Kiarie, the neatly dressed, bespectacled seventh-grader told a jury in Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens: "He started calling me names like stupid and fat. He got angry."

The boy, who was 12 at the time, said Kiarie, 42, fondled and groped him several times after he and the priest convinced the child's mother to let them go by bus to the beach without her on June 16, Father's Day.

"How did you feel at that moment?" Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Applebaum asked after the boy described the priest's attempt to kiss him.

"I didn't know how to feel," said the boy, who lives with his mother in Woodside. "I felt violated. I felt uncomfortable. I wanted to go home."

Kiarie had arrived at the boy's church, Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, five days earlier as a priest visiting from Kenya to raise money for African missions.

Prosecutors learned of the boy's allegations several days afterward from the Holy Ghost Fathers, a religious order based in Ireland to which Kiarie belonged before it suspended him because of the charges.

Detectives from the Queens district attorney's office arrested Kiarie at a home for retired priests in Long Island City on June 25.

He is free on $50,000 bail, which was raised by the religious order, and he faces five counts of sexual abuse, five counts of forcible touching and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

The charges are all misdemeanors, and by law, the most he could serve is 2 years in jail if convicted. In July, Kiarie rejected an offer from prosecutors that would have landed him in jail for 60 days in exchange for a guilty plea.

Salvatore Canonico, a defense attorney hired by the order, challenged the boy and his mother, who also testified, as to why they waited four days before telling anyone about the allegations.

The mother said she honored her son's request to wait until a priest he preferred from their church would return from a trip to Ireland.

The boy also did not complain while he, his mother and stepfather and Kiarie went to dinner later that day at a Spanish restaurant in Queens before visiting tourist spots in Manhattan.

"I felt scared since he was still with us," the boy said. "I didn't feel right." Canonico was not impressed.

"You're a big boy," he snapped during his questioning. "You knew that [the touching] was wrong. Why didn't you say anything? ... Why not, man?"

The boy told Judge Michael Aloise he could not answer the question.

Kiarie is expected to testify Wednesday.

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