May 09, 2006

Diocese got inside data on slaying probe

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
James Ewinger
Plain Dealer Reporter
Toledo - Testimony in a priest's murder trial showed how the Toledo Catholic Diocese got inside information from police about their investigation and worked behind the scenes on the priest's behalf.

A senior detective testified Monday that a deputy police chief interceded in a way that made him livid, and that he found to be inappropriate.

A 1980 letter introduced by prosecutors contains references to the diocese seeking a lawyer for the priest. The Rev. Gerald Robinson is on trial now for murder in the 1980 stabbing death of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, a nun in the hospital chapel where both worked. He was not charged then but was the prime suspect.

Robinson was only indicted in 2004, after a second investigation and the discovery of new evidence. This unfolded against the backdrop of revelations that the Toledo diocese had tried to handle complaints of sexual abuse by priests outside legal channels, with help from Toledo police officers.

A 2003 sexual-abuse claim triggered the renewed murder investigation. After a woman went to the diocese and felt that she was rebuffed and ignored, her complaint found its way to Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates, who created a cold-case unit after her election in 1996.

The 2003 sexual-abuse complaint named Robinson, and investigators recognized him as the suspect in the 1980 homicide.

Posted by kshaw at May 9, 2006 04:46 AM