Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Saturday, May 6, 2000

Priest convicted
of fondling faced
prior allegations

Previous cases on the mainland
came to light before his
sentencing hearing

By Debra Barayuga


A Catholic priest convicted of fondling and attempting to sexually assault a boy he met at Maunalua Bay Beach Park apparently had been cleared of unrelated sex assault allegations twice more than 10 years ago on the mainland.

Art Prosecutors didn't know about those cases when Mark Matson went to trial and was convicted by a jury in March for third-degree sexual assault and first-degree attempted assault for an August 1998 incident at Maunalua Bay Beach Park.

But those previous allegations could not have been used at trial anyway because prior conduct can't be used to convict someone, said his attorney David Minkin.

The allegations arose during Matson's sentencing yesterday in the 1998 case.

Circuit Judge Victoria Marks sentenced Matson, 52, to the maximum 20 years on the attempted assault, and five years on third-degree sex assault, to run concurrently.

In that incident, a 13-year-old boy who met Matson at the park late one night accused Matson of fondling him and attempting to perform oral sex on him.

Matson was trying to show the boy some magic tricks, including how to levitate, when the sexual contact allegedly occurred.

There were no eyewitnesses and the case boiled down to the boy's word against that of an adult.

Yesterday, Matson apologized to the family for what they had gone through and for misinterpreting what took place that night, Minkin said. Matson has always maintained there was no sexual contact between him and the boy.

"Father Matson is devastated and very disappointed in what he believes is the process not working and we will file an appeal," Minkin said.

The prior incidents didn't come to light until the adult probation office did some research as part of a routine presentencing report, Deputy Prosecutor Rom Trader said.

Matson was acquitted by a jury in a 1989 California sex assault case. A 1987 case in Colorado went to trial but was dismissed midway because the court found the alleged victims had fabricated the story, Minkin said.

Matson, when interviewed for the presentencing report, told the truth about the two incidents, Minkin said.

But Trader said, "The ironic and disturbing part is the description of the offenses he faced in Colorado was similar to the way he committed the offenses here."

While Matson hadn't been convicted in either case on the mainland, "it showed he had been engaged in this kind of conduct before," Trader said. "It's very significant information we didn't know about."

The family of the 13-year-old boy who is now 15, attended yesterday's sentencing and expressed relief that Matson is finally behind bars.

The boy moved to the mainland shortly after the incident and still has difficulty coping with what happened to him more than two years ago, Trader said.

Trader said he is inclined to recommend to the Hawaii Paroling Authority that Matson serve the 20 years. "The man is dangerous and he needs to be kept off the streets for a long time."

Matson, a priest at Tripler Hospital, had left his job a few months earlier and was planning to move when the incident allegedly occurred. He had testified that he was at the park late that night looking for packing boxes at the Dumpster when he encountered the boy.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin