October 07, 2005

Diocese: Minister can keep job if crime not made public

The Virginian-Pilot

By JON FRANK, The Virginian-Pilot
October 7, 2005

VIRGINIA BEACH — About 15 months ago, a lay minister at St. Nicholas Catholic Church was arrested and accused of trying to solicit sex from an undercover police officer – an adult male – in Red Wing Park.

Terrell L. Mailhiot, 56, minister of justice and peace at St. Nicholas, pleaded not guilty, but in May, he was found guilty of criminal solicitation, a felony.

Before Mailhiot’s sentencing, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond sent a letter to the judge presiding over his case. In that letter, the diocese said Mailhiot could keep his job if he were convicted of a misdemeanor and if the case did not become “public knowledge.”

Last month, Mailhiot received a suspended one-year prison sentence and a $785 fine. The church suspended Mailhiot from his job, according to the diocese’s attorney. Mailhiot appealed the conviction Monday.

A Richmond attorney who represents the diocese said the letter to Circuit Judge Patricia L. West expressed a standard business practice.

In the letter, the diocese’s human resources director, Dorothy G. Mahanes, said the question of whether Mailhiot kept his job depended, in part, on how much the public learned about the case.

Posted by kshaw at October 7, 2005 08:39 AM