Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Man in break-away Catholic cult wanted in child-rape case turns himself in

Seattle - A man accused of taking part in a five-year pattern of child rape on the Sammamish Plateau turned himself in to authorities Monday and is being held in the King County Jail.

Justin Kirkland, 20, was booked at the jail in downtown Seattle shortly before 3 a.m. and is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail, according to jail records.

Kirkland was charged Dec. 23, 2004, in King County Superior Court with first-degree child rape in connection with incidents that allegedly took place between 1998 and 2003 at a home in the 21500 block of Southeast 39th Street that police said was being used as a "religious home," according to charging papers. Other accounts have described it as part of a breakaway sect of the Catholic Church.

The charge was brought after an investigation that began when a woman told Bellevue police in April 2004 that her son had been sexually abused while at the home, court records indicate.

The woman told police the home was the location of a religious cult where only males were allowed to live, the charging papers say. She said she was allowed to visit her son only twice a year.

In May 2004, her son told police the sexual abuse began when he was between 7 and 9 years old, and he identified alleged assailants at the home, according to the charging papers. He said he had lived at the house five to six years.

King County detectives questioned some suspects in July 2004. In further investigations this year, the woman who initiated the investigation took a detective to an address in the 13600 block of 197th Avenue Southeast in Renton, where she said she knew relatives of one of the alleged abusers lived "because they were in the church together," court documents say. The woman told police she had "escaped from the church" on Oct. 6, 2003, according to the papers.

Department of Social and Health Services records indicated one of the children at the home indeed lived at the address on Southeast 39th Street, which was identified as the St. Francis Seminary. That and other information allowed the filing of amended charges this month identifying an additional suspect, records show.

Besides Kirkland, one other defendant has been arrested in connection with the assaults, according to court records. The Issaquah man, now 19, was 17 when he was arrested in September 2004. He pleaded guilty to child rape in November 2004, but has been held for evaluation, with juvenile-court jurisdiction recently being extended to Dec. 31 of this year.

No one was at the Sammamish home Monday. No trial date has been set for Kirkland.

According to a Seattle Times story of November 2002, the sect members worshipped in a church using the name Tridentine Latin Rites. The members are among thousands of disaffected Catholics who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s after the Vatican adopted changes to broaden the church's impact and appeal, according to the reports.

See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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