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Priest Convicted of Molestation

Jun 7, 2002 | AP

A Roman Catholic priest who molested a 13-year-old girl in a church rectory two decades ago was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday.

The Rev. Don Kimball, 58, must also register as a sex offender. He no longer has any duties as a priest.

Kimball was convicted in April of lewd conduct with the 13-year-old in 1981 at St. John's Rectory in Healdsburg. At the same trial, he was found innocent of raping a 14-year-old girl in 1977.

The Santa Rosa diocese has said it has spent $7.4 million on settlements, counseling and attorneys' fees on sex abuse cases. That includes $1.6 million to settle a 2000 lawsuit against Kimball.

"The local diocese got the message that this is a crime. This isn't just an ethical issue," prosecutor Gary Medvigy said.

The girl, Ellen Brem, had asked that the priest get the maximum 14-year sentence. "I don't think punishment will help him, but I would feel safer if he was put away," she said.

The Associated Press usually does not identify the victims of sex crimes, but Brem agreed to have her name made public.

Several people testified at trial about improper sexual conduct with Kimball between 1972 and 1981. He was a popular youth minister in the 1970s, a disc jockey who used rock 'n' roll to impart a religious message.

Defense attorney Chris Andrian has filed an appeal.

"It has been 21 years since anyone has made any sort of allegations of any misconduct by Don Kimball," he said. "It would suggest to me that if he were released, he would function in society."

Kimball will also face a felony assault trial for allegedly attacking a newspaper photographer outside court. He pleaded innocent to felony assault with a deadly weapon, felony vandalism and misdemeanor battery for allegedly assaulting San Francisco Chronicle photographer Penni Gladstone.

Witnesses said Kimball shoved the camera in Gladstone's face as he left the courtroom April 9. She received a gash below her right eye and the impact broke her glasses.

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