LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – His sentencing came down nearly 40 years after the crime, but James Schook’s victims who were in court Friday said it was worth the wait.
Judge Mitch Perry sentenced the former Louisville priest to 15 years in prison for three counts of sodomy and one count of indecent or immoral practices. It’s unknown when there will be a possibility of parole.
Schook's defense immediately appealed the judge's decision and asked for a bond. That request was denied.
"It felt very good to see him finally led away," Michael Stansbury, a sexual abuse victim, said.
Stansbury was the first of two men to come forward in cases of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s. Stansbury's case was thrown out on a technicality, while the second victim's case continued.
That victim, also in court Friday, was overwhelmed by the sentencing, but wished not to comment on camera.
"Their ability to sit there and watch that was something they felt very good about," John Balliet, the Commonwealth attorney, said.
"That did give me a sigh of relief, helped bring down my anxiety a little bit," Stansbury said.
The state acknowledged the case would not be where it is today without Stansbury's initial actions.
"Probably the fact that he came forward was encouraging to others to come forward and based on that, this was a wonderful vindication on the courage they showed to come forward. This was a happy day for them and I'm happy for him," Balliet said.
The defense argued Schook, 66, was suffering from terminal skin cancer and needed to be home, rather than in jail. The judge respectfully disagreed.
"We think the prison system is up to the task and will take care of him," Balliet said.
Balliet said the court needed to focus on the criminal acts Schook committed, not his health.
"When somebody doesn't think they've done anything wrong, they are in total denial that what they did is the wrong thing, they are very capable of doing it again," Balliet said.
"It's gotta stop somewhere. I hope people see it, that yes, it's a long battle, but it's one less person to worry about on the streets," Stansbury said.
Schook's defense attorney did not offer comment on the sentencing.
Michael Stansbury said the church never apologized for what happened, but he continues to have faith in God.