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Thursday, March 9, 2000

Priest could get 20 years
for sexual assault
of 13-year-old

By Debra Barayuga


A Circuit Court jury has convicted a Catholic priest of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy at a Hawaii Kai park in August 1998.

It took the jury only 2-1/2 hours of deliberations after hearing 2-1/2 days of testimony before finding Mark Matson guilty as charged with third-degree sexual assault and first-degree attempted sexual assault.

Deputy Prosecutor Rom Trader said he was "incredibly pleased" with the jury's decision given the one-on-one situation where there were no witnesses and the case came down to the boy's word against that of a 50-year-old man.

"These are hard cases for a jury -- they don't like to think people are doing this," he said.

Matson faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced May 5 before Judge Victoria Marks.

The court yesterday allowed Matson to remain on supervised release until sentencing. He has since moved to Texas, where the courts are closely monitoring and supervising him.

Matson has complied with the conditions of his release, including returning to Hawaii to testify, and the court believes he will return for sentencing, Trader said.

Defense attorney David Minkin could not be reached for comment.

The defense had contended that Matson exercised bad judgment by driving to Maunalua Bay Beach Park looking for packing boxes in a Dumpster but there absolutely was no sexual contact between the two. Matson met the boy at the park and began showing him some magic tricks.

The boy accused Matson of touching his penis during a coin trick. Also during a levitation session, he opened his eyes after he felt Matson unbuttoning his pants, pull out his penis and saw Matson's head descending.

Matson denied any sexual contact between them and said he left after he noticed the boy was having an erection and decided the levitation wasn't going to work since the boy wasn't concentrating.

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