Originally published on Advocate.com August 22 2003 12:00 AM ET
The former president of a St. Louis gay advocacy group has been convicted of improper sexual encounters with a teenager, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday. A St. Louis County jury on Wednesday convicted Rolf Rathmann, 38, of eight counts of second-degree statutory sodomy related to encounters with the teenager, then 14, last year at a suburban park. The key instruction before jurors was whether Rathmann reasonably believed, as he testified, that the youth was at least 17 years old. Defense attorney Brad Kessler had told jurors the alleged victim was a "lying manipulator" who had told Rathmann he was a high school graduate.
Rathmann, former president of Pride St. Louis, faces up to 56 years in prison. He resigned from Pride St. Louis after his arrest last December. The group advocates tolerance for gays and lesbians and sponsors the yearly pride festival.
Jurors were to make the decision on punishment in a separate penalty phase.