Maine Murderer Takes the Fall for CT Priest

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It was August 20, 1987.  The Prosecution asked the Court to sentence 23-yr. old Jeffrey Libby to 50 years for murdering his grandfather in a fit of rage.  The judge, now deceased, sentenced him to 60 years, saying, "There is nothing in this case that can be seen as a mitigating circumstance."

On April 23, 2010, the Maine Governor's Board on Executive Clemency denied Libby's petition for a clemency hearing despite a growing list of distinguished supporters.  Guidelines for hearing a petition for commutation are that 50% of the sentence be served.  Libby has served 23 ½ years.  Unknown to the Court at his sentencing but fully documented in the Petition to the Board on Executive Clemency was that Jeff was sexually abused by a CT priest at ages 13 and 14.  Forensic reports from distinguished psychologists in Maine and Connecticut clearly traced the sexual abuse to the murder 9 years later.

How did the Court reach such a conclusion in the fate of a 23-yr. old kid?  Did it order a forensic exam?  As the Trier of Fact, what evidence contributed to a sentence 22 years longer than the average murder sentence in Maine and 10 years longer than that requested by the Prosecution?  Screaming from the deep was shame so perverse that the defendant was unable to connect the dots from the sexual abuse to the murder.

Adolescent Psychiatry, a publication for the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry and Analytic Press, published a study in 2004 of the effects of clergy sexual abuse on male victims.  On average, male victims waited 18 years before seeking psychological or legal help.  Of 26 males studied, 85% were clinically depressed, 88% were involved with substance abuse, 55% showed symptoms of suicidality, 54% showed signs of loss of spirituality, 73% showed symptoms of sexual dysfunction, including confusion over sexual orientation.

Rage is a common emotion experienced by men and boys who have been molested by priests.  Fantasies of killing their molesters, 50% of whom force themselves on their victims, routinely surfaced in the study. There is no path to healing for the victim.  Relatives prefer to believe the church over their sons.  In 1987, at the time of Libby's conviction, the church and the Vatican were spending fortunes defending themselves in court.  Children taught to believe that a priest is God's emissary on earth would attribute the sexual abuse to a rejection by God and all other authority. Libby, recently examined psychologically and found to be "well-adjusted, stable and ready for release," in 2009 settled his civil suit against the Connecticut Archdiocese.

Jeff Libby is now serving a just sentence for his crime but additional time for a priest who was not prosecuted.  For the State of Maine to fail to factor in so heinous a mitigating circumstance is to be complicit in the abuse.
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