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Police Arrest Former Priest On Sex Abuse Charges

Investigators Say Crime Committed Over 30 Years Ago

May 29, 2003 | AP

A former Catholic priest was arrested Thursday on charges of sexually abusing a child more than 30 years ago.

Harold Charles Depp, 72, was taken into custody without incident at his home in Palm Springs, according to police in Oceanside. Search warrants were also served at Depp's workplace at the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment in Los Angeles.

Investigators say Depp began molesting an 11-year-old boy in 1971.

At the time, Depp was a visiting priest from Detroit staying at the Prince of Peace Abbey in Oceanside. Police said the molestation continued until the following year, when Depp left Oceanside, located 35 miles north of San Diego.

The alleged victim, now in his 40s, contacted authorities two months ago to prevent other children from becoming victimized. He reported that he had learned that Depp had failed to register as a sex offender and was working around children, police said.

On Thursday, the California Attorney General's office filed a 42-count complaint against Depp in San Diego County Superior Court, charging him with child molestation, sodomy and oral copulation of a child, identified in court papers as Joseph M.

Depp also was charged with failure to register as a sex offender.

He will be brought to Oceanside for questioning and then jailed, police said.

After leaving Oceanside, Depp moved to Arizona and then to Alaska, where he was convicted in 1982 of oral copulation, sodomy and masturbation of a child, according to the complaint.

He served eight years of a 13-year sentence and then returned to California around 1990, said Oceanside police Lt. Sheila Potkonjak.

In 1990, the Rev. Paul Shanley, a central figure in the sex abuse scandal in the Boston Archdiocese, and another former priest, John L. White, bought the Cabana Club Resort in Palm Springs, which catered to gays.

Shanley, 71, was arrested one year ago in San Diego. He has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of child rape in Massachusetts and remains free on bail.

Potkonjak said she was unaware of any connection between the two men.

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