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Priest's Confession Is Aired At Sex Abuse Trial

May 20, 2003 | St. Louis Post Dispatch Jurors listened Tuesday to a 20-minute tape of the Rev. Bryan Kuchar as he told police last year about his sexual relationship with a troubled teenage boy in 1995 when Kuchar was a parish priest at Assumption Catholic Church in south St. Louis County.

Kuchar also told county police detectives about two later sexual encounters with the boy, at the rectories of St. Timothy's Catholic Church and the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica.

The confession was recorded on April 10 of last year and detailed oral and anal sex. Kuchar is on trial in St. Louis County Circuit Court on six counts of statutory sodomy. If convicted, he could get up to 42 years in prison.

The jury also heard testimony from police Detective Jennifer Williams, who said Kuchar had confessed to her and fellow Detective John Newsham before they recorded the statements.

Now 22, the alleged victim also testified about the sexual relationship, which he said began at Kuchar's insistence when the victim was 14. The victim's mother testified that she first learned her son had been molested by Kuchar in March 2000 while her son was a patient at a drug treatment center in mid-Missouri.

During opening statements, prosecutor Rob Livergood pointed to Kuchar, clad in his black suit and Roman collar, and told the jury: "That man molested a 14-year-old child."

Defense attorneys Scott Rosenblum and J. Martin Hadican are contending that Kuchar is the victim of false allegations.

Regarding the tape-recorded confession, Hadican told the jury that the priest was also the victim of "two officers trained in the art of interrogation. Confused and befuddled, Father makes some admissions."

Hadican said the detectives used "psychological coercion" to get Kuchar to admit to crimes he didn't commit.

Under questioning by Livergood, Williams said neither she nor Newsham ever yelled at Kuchar or threatened him. Police reports show the interrogation lasted three hours.

Kuchar wasn't even handcuffed, Williams said, when he was arrested as he left Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, where he was associate director of the Archdiocese of St. Louis' Vocations Office.

In 1995, Kuchar was an associate pastor at Assumption on Mattis Road when the school principal asked him to tutor the 14-year-old because the eighth-grader had troubles in school.

Over the next six months, Kuchar sexually abused the teen at the rectory and at the youth's house, the young man testified.

He testified that Kuchar told him: "This is between you and me. He never specifically told me not to tell anyone."

In March 2000, the young man said he told a counselor at the drug treatment center and his family. Near Christmas in 2001, he said he had a chance encounter with Kuchar when the priest walked into the store where the young man was working. He said he was so overwrought he called his mother to take him home.

During last year's widespread news coverage of abusive priests in St. Louis, Boston and elsewhere, the young man also contacted Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Under cross-examination by Rosenblum, the young man admitted he filed a civil suit against Kuchar and the Archdiocese of St. Louis before going to police. He signed a contingency fee contract in which he does not pay his lawyer fees or expenses, but the lawyer gets a percentage of his award if the suit is successful.

The man also admitted that he has used marijuana, cocaine, heroin and addictive pharmaceuticals as a teen-ager. Rosenblum suggested the man made up the story for the first time at the treatment center to get back in the good graces of his family.

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