Originally created 04/11/98

Priest receives sentence



CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A retired priest who held posts in the Catholic church in the Lowcountry was sentenced to five years probation for committing lewd acts with boys more than 20 years ago.

The Rev. Eugene Condon entered Alford pleas Thursday to committing a lewd act upon a minor and to two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, authorities said.

In an Alford plea, a defendant concedes prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him but does not admit guilt.

The retired 68-year-old priest told Circuit Judge Costa Pleicones he never intended to hurt anyone.

"I'd like to thank God for the strength to bear the last few years," the Rev. Condon said. He also thanked those who prayed for him.

Two victims testified how the Rev. Condon took advantage of their trust.

"I thought he was my friend," said one man who said the Rev. Condon gave him alcohol, watched him fall asleep and tried to molest him while in Edgefield County around 1961.

"Only after 25 years of therapy have I come to an awareness of the damage that this man did to me," the victim said.

A second victim said he was an altar boy attending Stella Maris school on Sullivan's Island around 1971 when the Rev. Condon attempted to perform a lewd act on him. That victim went to the FBI three years ago.

The Rev. Condon will have to register as a sexual offender and may have no personal contact with any male under 18 without parental consent and supervision.

The Rev. Condon's lawyer Andy Savage said the plea was the appropriate decision to get the incident behind him.

"He's been isolated. He's been cut off from the church. It's been a difficult time for him," said Mr. Savage.

The Rev. Condon was granted early retirement from St. John's Catholic Church in North Charleston two years ago.