Catholic priest sentenced for 2018 rape of parishioner
Miami, Florida: on Thursday, February 17, 67-year-old Jean Claude Jean-Philippe was sentenced to 94.5 months in prison after a jury deliberated for just two hours and found him guilty of sexual battery in 2018.
The sentence was the minimum allowable according to sentencing guidelines for someone with no criminal history despite the prosecution's request for a 15-year sentence, the maximum allowable.
The unnamed woman testified during the one week trial that in October 2018, Philippe had invited her to his home where he had provided her a beverage. She testified that two hours later, she woke up to find herself completely naked in his bedroom, with Jean-Philippe standing over her in just his underwear.
The woman stated that she had initially reported the abuse to another priest, Silverio Rueda, who advised her to keep quiet.
Previous to the attack, Philippe had been like a family member the woman testified. He was the godfather to her children and had even vacationed with the family.
Despite confessing to penetrating the woman with his fingers when he spoke with the Miami-Dade Police in March 2019, Philippe took the stand during the trial to testify in his own defense and stated that the confession was false.
Philippe was placed on administrative leave by the Archbishop Thomas Wenski on March 4, 2019 after they received a complaint about his conduct.
"If he would have never went to the police station with the detectives and talked to them they would have never even filed this case because they had absolutely no evidence," Thomas Risavy, Philippe's defense attorney was quoted by WPLG as saying. He went on to say that they will be appealing.
The archdiocese issued a statement following the sentencing saying in part, "The Archdiocese of Miami deeply regrets the harm perpetrated by this priest which extends not only to the survivor this assault and her family but to the parishioners, to priests of integrity, and to the entire community of faith."
They went on to state their commitment to fighting abuses saying, "every member of the clergy, teachers, employees, and volunteers received a Level 2 background check and training in how to recognize a predator or attempts at grooming."
According to the Miami Herald, Philippe didn't take advantage of the last opportunity he had before sentencing to apologize to the victim, but rather, asserted that, "The devil is powerful but won't change me. I won't change my ways. I will continue my path."
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