Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Well at Least This Time it Wasn't a Catholic Priest

Case laid out in sex assault trial

Defense attorney blames 'bad dating decision'

Via Daily Camera

Peter Kim — a former youth pastor on trial over charges of sexual assault on a teenager — may have made a bad dating decision, but what he did was not illegal, his defense attorney said during opening statements Tuesday.

Kim, 40, is charged with child sexual assault by a person in a position of trust and a pattern of child sexual assault, which could mean a life sentence if he's convicted.

Prosecutor Tim Johnson told a Boulder County District Court jury on Tuesday that Kim betrayed his church and the trust that families vested in him, and demonstrated a clear pattern of grooming his alleged victims before assaulting them.

"This case is about betrayal," Johnson said.

Kim was arrested last fall after a woman who had attended Central Presbyterian Church, 402 Kimbark St., told her therapist that the two were sexually involved between January 2001 and January 2004, when she was underage. He has a previous misdemeanor conviction for having a relationship with a teen he met while working with children at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church a decade earlier.

But Kim's attorney, Steve Louth, said the Longmont victim's college friends say she told them that the healthy part of their relationship developed before she was 18.

"Don't let people manufacture evidence to save the case," Louth told the jurors.

Louth also said that his client did not even peck his alleged victim on the cheek until after he was no longer employed at the church.

"Is there a big age difference? Yes. Do we like that? No," Louth said, noting that his client's relationship with the young woman was not illegal.

But Johnson said that Kim would touch the alleged victim's buttocks, tell her he loved her and that she was "beautiful" while she was a member of the youth group. On the way home from a ski retreat, the prosecutor alleged, Kim rubbed her thighs, near her genitals, while she was scared and pretending to sleep.

The prosecutor also said that other members of the youth group noticed how Kim acted around the alleged victim, and a group of young men had a code phrase for every time they noticed inappropriate interactions. Upon finding that out, Kim became angry and called them into his office and scolded them, Johnson said.

Kim's trial resumes this morning.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.

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