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Father Rudy Kos, priest and accused molester of altar boys, arrested at the Loft in Hillcrest

They cuffed the priest

The cameras are there in the courtroom in the San Diego County Courthouse, but they are not yet rolling. Not for the Hispanic male who needs an interpreter to help him grab the gist of the proceedings as he faces felony DUI charges; not for the young African-American male in prison garb who the judge insists needs to get a high school diploma within the next 12 months - a feat of which his attorney suspects he is incapable - and who does an acceptable pimp roll as he leaves the courtroom; and certainly not for the two overweight African-American women who stand chastened before Judge Gale Kaneshiro for some reason which does not become clear to the casual observer.

No, the cameras will not begin to roll and click until the arrival of Rudolph Edward Kos, priest and accused molester of altar boys, who will have his chance today in this courtroom to state whether or not he will fight extradition to Irving, Texas, where the alleged crimes took place.

The preliminary bouts out of the way, a mood of expectation fills the room. A prosecutor leans over the rail to where a reporter sits and asks, "You here to harass the poor priest?"

The judge leaves the bench and a buzz reminiscent of that one hears in a classroom with no teacher pervades the place. Five minutes go by and the judge returns.

Bowing to requests from the media, Kaneshiro announces that she has agreed to permit audio equipment and cameras in her courtroom with the proviso that there be no flash photography.

A door on the judge's right opens and olive drabPgarbed marshals bring the prisoner into the courtroom. Now the tape recorders are pointed and the cameras begin capturing him whom the police captured two days ago in a Hillcrest bar. Was ever his processional entrance into the nave so anxiously awaited, so attended upon by unsuspecting congregations long ago?

The actual appearance of the balding accused is anticlimactic.

Addressing Kos, vested now in prison blue and cuffed like a Duke of Hazzard, as "Mr. Edward" - he has lived and worked in San Diego for three years under the name - the judge asks him if he agrees to waive extradition, which his young, blonde court-appointed attorney says he has agreed to do, and then to sign five copies of the waiver.

Kos had been dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and was sipping a gin and tonic by himself at a table in the back of the Loft, a gay bar in Hillcrest, it was reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, one of many Texas papers that covered the bust more extensively than did the Union-Tribune. "Kos was on his first drink when two officers - a male and female dressed in plain clothes - walked to his table, flashed their badges, and handcuffed him," the paper wrote.

Bartender Rod George was quoted describing the arrest. "The woman showed her badge, and they asked him to get up. Nobody noticed anything until the handcuffs came out. We were surprised. It's not an everyday occurrence that people get carted off in here. We're a small neighborhood bar, and we know most of our customers."

The paper added: "Kos began frequenting the Loft about a month ago, George said. He called himself 'J.R.' and came in about three times a week, calling it a 'pit stop' on his walks around the neighborhood, George said. He drank gin and tonic or wine, 'two or three at the most' each visit, and pretty much kept to himself, George said."

In the courtroom, a marshal unlocks one handcuff, and with his left hand, Kos signs the documents that will end his more-than-three-year stay in America's Finest City and put him on a plane for Texas. Then he is re-shackled. He tells the judge he wants to cooperate. Because of the nature of the charges, Kaneshiro orders Kos held in protective custody without bond pending the arrival of the Dallas authorities who will escort him to Texas. In order to ensure that he does not get lost in the county jail system, she schedules a hearing to be held on October 27 to check whether he is Texas-bound.

Outside the courtroom, prosecutor Bob Locke answers a reporter who asks why Kos was suddenly arrested October 15, after being allowed to go free on bond with charges against him dating back several years. "He's apparently a fugitive with warrants out. This is part of the procedure."

Kos was found liable along with the Dallas Diocese in a civil suit settled for $120 million in July but remained free in San Diego even though criminal charges that pointed to the possibility he was a danger to the community were pending against him. Why was he allowed to remain free?

"I do not know the reason for the delay," Locke answers.

There is a lot that people do not know. A fog seems to have enveloped the case; even in the courtroom corridor confusion reigns. A journalist in Outback garb asks why Texas officers arrested Kos. "No...it was not Texas officers. There was a local investigation going on." Another reporter addresses Locke as if Locke is Kos's defense attorney, then apologizes profusely when corrected. Does anybody know anything? Perhaps a stop at the Loft, the Hillcrest bar where Kos was arrested, will yield something.

"He's been coming in probably the last month, maybe two or three times a week," says Rod George, the bartender who was working at the time of Kos's arrest.

"We really didn't know much about him. We're a small neighborhood bar," George tells a visitor.

"We're one of the friendliest bars in town. We talk to everyone who comes in the door - we don't necessarily assume anyone's a child molester when they walk in."

Did anyone know he was a priest?

"We had no idea."

What did he talk about?

Well, there were the crock-pot recipes, which he shared with George. "And then they just came in and carted him off.... I was serving somebody a drink, and when I came back, she was showing the badge or something to him, and the guy says, 'Put your arms behind your back,' and they cuffed him, and that's when everyone started realizing something was going on. We heard the clicking of the handcuffs, and other than that, they just walked him out the door."

George continues: "It just happened to happen in here.... I don't think there was anything special about our bar; some people said this was his usual hangout. Well, sure, he came in here, but he'd walk up the street, too..."

Kos would come in and leave alone. But had he befriended any of the Loft's regulars?

"He kind of kept to himself - not that he was shy or anything, didn't huddle in the corner.

"I talked to him more than anyone because I'm the bartender - that's what I get paid to do."

Did George know how the police knew where to find Kos?

"People said they saw them across the street...said they saw them looking, waiting, kind of hesitant to come in, but I didn't notice anything."

Was there any exchange between George and the police?

"Well, it's not like I was gonna say, 'Get off my patron!' " George laughs. "Let him tip first."

Is the Loft strictly a gay bar?

"No. This is just a small neighborhood bar. I get paid to serve whoever walks in my door. If you have money for a beer or a drink or whatever, I serve you. We actually have quite a diversified clientele that come in. We have a lot of gay customers that walk in here - that's why we're touted as one of the friendliest bars. We'll serve anybody. A better description is probably a 'gay-friendly' bar. It's predominantly a gay clientele."

George adds, "I think the perception of equating 'gay' with molesting people is just too easy to throw in there, and that's kind of unfair to all the people who come in here."

What about Kos's recipe? Would George share that? "I'm in the process of moving right now, and I don't think I'd even know where to find it."

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