Priest Allegedly Hit ‘SF Chronicle’ Photographer

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By: Jim Rosenberg

A Roman Catholic priest was jailed for allegedly assaulting San Francisco Chronicle photographer Penni Gladstone Tuesday outside the courtroom where he stood accused of raping a 14-year-old girl almost 25 years ago.

The only photographer present, Gladstone said she saw the impending blow through her camera’s viewfinder but had no chance to react. “I saw it, it happened. It was that quick,” she recalled. Grateful she doesn’t ordinarily wear a camera strap, she added that the Rev. Don Kimball yanked the camera and tossed it behind him, hitting Clark Mason, a reporter for The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa.

X-rayed and inoculated against tetanus, Gladstone suffered a cut, bruising, swelling, and broken eyeglasses. Mason was uninjured.

The digital camera suffered, too. Gladstone said only two of her four shots survived, but that the Chron‘s graphics technology chief, Gary Fong, sent the memory card to the camera maker in hope of retrieving the remaining images.

When she was told by sheriff’s officers after the incident that it was her only chance to have Kimball arrested and that she could drop the charges later, she assented and “they booked him for felony assault with a deadly weapon,” she said. He was released that day on $30,000 bail.

Kimball’s lawyer, who said he thought his client had been provoked, withdrew a request for mistrial based on the lunch-hour incident’s possible effect on the jury, according to Mason’s reporting, which also noted a larger-than-usual media presence the day after the altercation.

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