Judge sentences Rev. James Schook to 15 years in prison for sexual abuse

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- A Louisville priest convicted earlier this year of sexually abusing a teenage boy in the 1970s is asking to be released from prison just six months into his 15-year sentence.  

An attorney for the Rev. James Schook has given notice that he will ask a judge Monday to release Schook on shock probation, saying he “now realizes the importance of obeying and conforming to the community's rules.”

In April, a jury convicted Schook of three counts of sodomy and one count of indecent and immoral behavior with an individual and recommended the 15-year sentence, which the judge upheld.

David Lambertus, Schook's attorney, wrote that he has the support of family members and friends who have offered to care for him and “make sure he abides by the rules of shock probation.”

Schook suffers from terminal cancer. Shock probation allows inmates to be released after serving one to six months of their sentence, under the belief they have been so "shocked" by their experience that they would be deterred from future crimes.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Balliet said he anticipates that he will oppose early release for Schook but would talk to the victims first.

“I have a feeling they might persuade me one way or another,” he said.

The victims could not be immediately reached for comment, but Jeff Koenig, with SNAP -- the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests – said releasing Schook so soon “will not do justice to the crimes he was convicted of.”

Lambertus does not talk with the media.

At his sentencing, Judge Mitch Perry denied Schook probation and declined to set bond pending appeal.

"This court believes you've been spared the consequences of your acts, going back almost 40 years, and it cannot go unnoticed in all of the reports to the court that you've simply refused to take responsibility for these matters," Perry said at the time.

Technically, Schook is still a priest, though the Archdiocese has removed him from public ministry.

Cecelia Price, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese, said a a full report about the case was sent to the Holy See. She said the Holy See has "subsequently informed Archbishop Kurtz that due to his age and infirmity, Fr. Schook will remain under the restrictions of leading a life of prayer and penance. Priests leading a life of prayer and penance may not present themselves publicly as a priest, wear clerical garb, celebrate Mass publicly, or administer the sacraments."

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