Former Priest To Face Molestation Trial In Truckee

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A former priest awaits trial March 9 on charges he molested a young girl in 1995 in this small Sierra town near the Nevada line.

Stephen Kiesle, 56, a former priest in Fremont and Pinole, is set to go to trial on the molestation charge and a related count in Nevada County Superior Court in Nevada City.

Prosecutors declined comment, and Kiesle's lawyer did not return phone calls.

Kiesle resigned from the priesthood in 1981 after a misdemeanor molestation conviction.

In the summer of 2002, police searched outside Kiesle's vacation home in Truckee for clues in the disappearance of a girl from his neighborhood in Pinole.

Kiesle lived down the street from 7-year-old Amber Swartz-Garcia when she vanished in 1988 while jumping rope in her front yard in the suburb east of San Francisco.

But the excavation turned up no evidence, and Kiesle was never named as a suspect.

Also in 2002, Kiesle was arrested and charged with molesting more boys and girls while he was a priest more than 25 years ago in Fremont. He pleaded not guilty.

He was released last year after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidated a 1994 law extending the statute of limitations in child molestation cases.

The ruling didn't affect the case in Truckee, where a pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 20.

Kiesle was defrocked in 1978 after he was charged with tying up two boys and molesting them. He was arrested on molestation charges in 1981 in Union City.

He also has been sued by seven women who claim he sexually abused them while they were minors.