Catholic priest accused of drunkenly fondling Woodburn boy hires A-list attorney

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The Oregonian

Published: Thursday, August 16, 2012, 6:02 PM     Updated: Thursday, August 16, 2012, 8:06 PM

By  Bryan Denson, The Oregonian

Marc Blackman is considered one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Oregon.
A Woodburn priest accused this week of drunkenly fondling a 12-year-old boy has hired one of Oregon’s best criminal defense lawyers to represent him.

The Archdiocese of Portland offered an open-ended loan to the Rev. Angel Armando Perez to cover the legal fees of Marc Blackman, according to archdiocese spokesman Bud Bunce.

Blackman, 65, a founder of the Ransom Blackman law firm, has spent the last 35 years in private practice, representing such high-profile criminals as:

Andy Wiederhorn, a Portland businessman, who was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison (and fined $2 million) for filing a false tax return and paying an illegal gratuity to the head of Capital Consultants.

Jonathan C. M. Paul, an Animal Liberation Front saboteur (and brother of Baywatch TV star Alexandra Paul), who was sentenced to a five-year prison term for burning down a horse slaughterhouse in Redmond.

Jayant Patel, an Oregon surgeon nicknamed “Doctor Death” by Australian news media for performing ies botched surgeries that ended with manslaughter convictions. (Blackman represented Patel during his extradition to Australia.) Patel was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Blackman declined to Comment for this story.

It’s unclear what assistance he will be able to offer Perez, who remained jailed Thursday in Marion County.

Woodburn police arrested Perez Monday after the 12-year-old boy ran out of a parish-owned house, telling authorities the clergyman had fondled him. Perez told investigators he had gotten very drunk and passed out and didn’t remember what had happened. But he acknowledged that he drove to boy’s home, where he fell to his knees, and apologized to his parents, according to a police report.

The priest, a native of Mexico, holds a green card as a minister of religion. This gives him permanent legal residency in the U.S., said Bunce, the director of communications for the Portland archdiocese, which represents Roman Catholics in western Oregon.

The archdiocese has not had a priest arrested on sex abuse charges since the early 1980s, when the Rev. Thomas Laughlin was arrested and convicted of child abuse, Bunce said. It was unclear whether the archdiocese loaned Laughlin money for his legal representation, he said.

Blackman is a tireless advocate for his clients who finds creative ways to attack the prosecutions of those he represents, said Assistant U.S. Attorney John F. Deits, who has battled Blackman in courtrooms for decades.

“He’s one of the best criminal lawyers in the state — period,” said Deits, who heads a team of drug prosecutors in Portland.

Deits believes Blackman possesses an advantage over many criminal defense attorneys because he worked as a federal prosecutor. Blackman went to work for the U.S. attorney’s office in Portland in 1974, taking on mostly tax and white-collar crime cases.

Charlie Turner, one of Oregon’s former U.S. attorneys, worked as a line prosecutor with Blackman. He recalled his friend as a skilled courtroom lawyer who appealed to judges and juries and always drilled straight to the heart of legal matters.

“When you go up against Marc Blackman, you better have your homework done,” Turner said. “You better have the facts of the law on your side.”

Blackman possesses a cool courtroom demeanor, although he sometimes looks tightly wound beneath his dark suits, and his plainspoken arguments resonate with judges and juries.

While arguing the case of an Oak Grove schoolteacher who had surfed the web for child porn, he argued that his client never “possessed” the images, only viewed them. He likened the web surfing to window shopping at Meier & Frank. “When I view a web page, I am visiting,” he said. “When I walk by the window, I possess the object because I can see it?”

Blackman and fellow prosecutor John “Jack” Ransom left the U.S. attorney’s office in 1977 to form — with lawyer Jeff Rogers — their own law practice. Rogers later left the firm.

Ransom said his partner has performed some of his best work in cases that never saw the light of day, handling clients facing legal or regulatory actions by such entities as the Oregon State Bar, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Oregon Medical Board.

“It hurts me to say this,” Ransom said with a chuckle. “He is a better lawyer than I am. … He sees things that most people don’t see. He can envision certain possibilities occurring down the road that other people don’t see. He can prevent a lot of problems because of that intense intelligence that allows him to identify these problems.”

Portland lawyer Kelly Clark, who has represented victims of clergy sex abuse in civil lawsuits, said the idea that the archdiocese offered Perez a loan first struck him as curious.

But after he thought about it, he said, it made more sense — if Perez had acknowledged responsibility — for the archdiocese to offer him a loan because it demonstrates its belief in forgiveness and redemption.

“If in fact the priest has admitted wrongdoing, then one reason for going with someone like Marc is that he is so well respected he might be able to negotiate a more tolerable plea bargain,” he said. Picking Blackman, he said, showed one thing: “They went right to the top of the class.”

— Bryan Denson

7 Responses to Catholic priest accused of drunkenly fondling Woodburn boy hires A-list attorney

  1. Sylvia says:

    Here we go again.  A high priced attorney and an open cheque book from the diocese.  For what? 

  2. Anne C says:

    Disgusting, absolutely horrible. That poor boy. Hiding behind the first stranger he met – he felt safer than he did with that priest. It makes me sick to my stomach what the (my) church is doing – not just the pedophiles – I mean going to every length, spare no expense, to defend these beasts. We should be thanking God the truth is coming out – which gives us a chance to deal with it. 

    The monsignor’s comments (in the previous post) say it all: “What he’s [the priest] being accused of is unsettling, that’s for sure. But we all have weak links in our human nature.’

    Unsettling (for who?)? Weak links? Just listen to them! How about some sympathy for the child running down a dark street for his life away from a deranged priest?

  3. Michel says:

    *If I sold hot dogs that had blue mold on the buns and dirty yesterdays carbon sausage I would be out of business pretty fast…I like it when I get a complaint(and I don’t get many) it makes me correct the problem..funny how a big old institution has not learned that little pearl of great price uh. RC must stand for Righteously Crass.

  4. Mike says:

         This charade begs one to wonder – how much money did the archdiocese lend this poor little boy’s family to help them in the prosecution of this suspected criminal?      Mike.

  5. Mike says:

         Re: “Here We Go Again”

         Assuming all of the allegations are true (I have NO reason to disbelieve) this is just a reward from the archdiocese for the disordered and deviant display that one of their priests displayed on a very public street while chasing and terrorizing a young twelve year old boy.
         This is the SAME Roman Catholic Church that I grew up in, professing Christianity out of every hole in their faces, and demanding subservience from the masses, all the while wallowing in their wealth and power.
         What about this poor little boy, and his family? I can’t begin to imagine how they must feel right now, knowing that the church will support (financially) this kind of abherent behaviour and leave them out in the cold tosuffer the consequences of one of their disordered “priests”.
         Is it any small wonder why the church has become a target after hearing about things like this!!     Mike.

  6. Anne C says:

    I don’t know about anyone else here, but as the truth comes out, I am having a lot of trouble saying these words in mass: “I believe in the Holy Catholic church.”

  7. MS says:

    *I do not believe in the “holy, Roman Catholic Church”.  I have not been able to say that phrase for years.
    I profess that I believe “holy Christian church…the Torah, the Word of God before the Roman Catholic Church, like the Pharisees, perverted the Torah, before man-made doctrine polluted it, etc.  I take nothing away from who Jesus is/what He did/taught.   I encourage those of you who want to learn truth to log on to God’s Learning Channel.  The Shepherd’s Heart is a good series.
    They have many good teachers…not preachers…teachers.  Your hearts will burn within you as you listen.  Truth resonates deep within us.  We have gone far from the blueprint.  For the love of Elohim, Adonai, YHWH, God our Father, let’s begin to filter out the “yeast” and find pure religion.
    Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.   Since He walked in Jerusalem, man has tried to alter/modify/bend/pervert what He said to justify their sin.  1 John 1:5-10 
    Our deeds done in darkness will be brought into the Light, sooner or later. That includes lawyers, judges, Vatican.  God’s mercy/justice is one and the same, the balance we all need, woe to us who are bought for a price, who take bribes against the innocent.  Money won’t be worth much when God asks what we did to the little ones. As we did to them, we did to Him.
    Lord, have mercy.

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