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Judge Rules Ex-Priest In Hong Kong Must Stand Trial On Charges He Molested Boy

Jan 10, 2003 | AP A judge on Friday rejected an ex-priest's argument that he can't get a fair trial on allegations he molested a boy more than a decade ago and ordered him to face the charges on Monday.

Former Roman Catholic priest Michael Lau, 42, showed no emotion as the judge rejected defense arguments Lau was at an unfair disadvantage because years have passed, evidence has been destroyed and some potential witnesses have died.

District Court Judge Maggie Poon said delays are "not uncommon" and "wholly understandable," particularly in cases of alleged sexual abuse, and Lau had not shown a good reason to avoid trial.

"Rarely would a court conclude that a fair trial is impossible," Poon said.

Lau became the only person to be arrested and charged in a pedophilia-and-coverup scandal that shook the Hong Kong church last year, about the same time the church in the United States and elsewhere was under fire over similar problems.

Lau was defrocked in 1995 after an internal church investigation found he had twice molested a 15-year-old boy.

The church never reported its findings to the police but after more cases emerged last year, church officials said they had adopted a zero tolerance policy and would be more cooperative with the authorities.

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