Sunday, November 13, 2005

 

Louisville priest pleads guilty to abusing boys


Loiusville, Kentucky - The Rev. Edwin Scherzer, a Roman Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Louisville, pleaded guilty yesterday to abusing four boys between 1956 and 1966, agreeing to spend five years under house arrest.

One of the victims, Tom Weiter, said in a telephone interview last night that, as a boy, he "was taught to love Father Scherzer because he was a priest."

Scherzer was "a good priest and a family friend," Weiter said, but also "a guy who used children for his own sexual gratification."

Scherzer, 80, pleaded guilty to four felony counts of indecent or immoral practices with a child under 15, the equivalent of what would be called sexual abuse under current Kentucky law, said Steve Tedder, a spokesman for the commonwealth's attorney's office.

Sentencing in Jefferson Circuit Court will be Jan. 9 by Judge F. Kenneth Conliffe, Tedder said.

Weiter said he feels good that justice has been served after 40 years. He said he would have wanted Scherzer to be imprisoned had the priest been younger or in better health. Home incarceration takes Scherzer "out of circulation" and away from children, Weiter said.

Scherzer pleaded guilty to sexually abusing Weiter some time between 1963 and 1966. Weiter has said he attended St. Therese church and school at the time.

Three of the four victims previously filed lawsuits against the archdiocese, accusing the priest of abuse, and were part of the $25.7 million sex-abuse settlement that plaintiffs reached with the archdiocese in 2003.

"For the sake of the victims and our local Church, we are pleased that Father Edwin Scherzer is pleading guilty and accepting responsibility for his actions," an archdiocesan statement said yesterday.

"We hope that Father Scherzer's action today will provide some healing and peace for his victims. No child should have to experience abuse of any kind. We are committed to preventing abuse and reaching out to anyone who has been harmed by Church employees," the archdiocese said.

Scherzer is living in an assisted-living home in Louisville, Tedder said.

"Given his age and his health, that (house arrest) was the best option I think for everybody involved," prosecutor Jon Heck said.

Scherzer was indicted in February.

Ordained in 1950, he retired in 1995.

He was at St. Edward parish from 1956 to 1960 and at St. Therese from 1960 to 1969, according to the archdiocese.

Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly removed Scherzer from public ministry in 2002 after Catholic bishops in the United States approved a policy calling for such action against priests suspected of having sexually abused a child.

Earlier this year, the Vatican ordered him to lead a life of prayer and penance rather than removing him from the priesthood.

Under that order, Scherzer is not allowed to perform any public ministry, present himself as a priest or have unsupervised contact with minors.

Besides the Weiter allegation, Scherzer also pleaded guilty to abusing George Geraghty some time between 1964 and 1965. In civil litigation, Geraghty has said he attended St. Therese church and school at the time.

The priest also pleaded guilty to sexually abusing John Scott between July 1956 and September 1957. Scott said during civil litigation that he was abused when he attended St. Edward Church.

A fourth count involving an alleged victim who did not file a lawsuit accuses Scherzer of similar conduct in the same period of time .

Scherzer's attorney, David Lambertus, could not be reached for comment.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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