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Priest Who Served In County Arrested

Apr 5, 2003 | Ventura County Star

A Catholic priest was arrested in Ventura on Friday on allegations that he molested four local children in their bedrooms during confession and on fishing trips in the family trailer.

The Rev. Carl Sutphin, who worked in Oxnard and Camarillo, was taken into custody by Ventura Police Department officers at a relative's house, Deputy District Attorney Douglas Ridley said.

Sutphin, 70, was booked at Ventura County Jail on 10 counts of child molestation and is being held on $500,000 bail. He is expected to be arraigned Tuesday. If convicted for the Ventura County charges, Sutphin faces up to 17 years in state prison.

The molestations allegedly occurred in the 1970s while Sutphin was a priest at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Camarillo, from 1971 to 1975, and a chaplain at St. John's Hospital in Oxnard, from 1975 to 1991, Ridley said.

The victims were between ages 9 and 12 at the time. Two of them were brothers from Oxnard.

"He took trips with the kids alone," Ridley said. "He was close with the families."

Ridley would not elaborate on the circumstances of the molestations or the victims.

Some of the victims no longer live in Ventura County. They all reported Sutphin to authorities within the past year.

Don Steier, who represents Sutphin, said his client plans to plead not guilty to the charges. He said he couldn't comment on the charges until he had more information, but he was enraged at the bail.

"I think the bail is simply outrageous," Steier said. "He (Sutphin) has a 96-year-old mother he cares for. He is about as much of a flight risk as (District Attorney) Greg Totten."

The $500,000 bail was initially set at $100,000, but a judge raised it after reviewing the charges, a jail official said.

Sutphin was an associate pastor at St. Vibiana's Cathedral in 1995 in Los Angeles and moved to the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels when it opened. He retired in 2002. Since then, he has been taking care of his mother in Ventura, Steier said. A sex-abuse case filed against Sutphin in April 2002 alleges that he molested two boys while serving at a parish in Maywood.

If convicted for the Ventura County charges, Sutphin faces up to 17 years in state prison.

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