Asked Apr 15, 2006, 11:33 AM
Priest faces trial in nunís stabbing death
Body of 71-year-old victim was found under altar cloth 26 years ago
Updated: 10:35 a.m. ET April 15, 2006
TOLEDO, Ohio - A 68-year-old Catholic priest goes on trial Monday in the stabbing death of a nun whose body was found covered by an altar cloth in a chapel 26 years ago.
The Rev. Gerald Robinson, charged with murder and facing a possible sentence of life in jail if convicted, has been on leave from his priestly duties since his arrest in 2004. He has pleaded not guilty.
The crime occurred in a hospital chapel in downtown Toledo on Saturday of Easter week in 1980. Investigators said the nun, Margaret Ann Pahl, 71, was strangled and then stabbed up to 32 times.
The investigation initially centered on Robinson, the hospitalís chaplain and a priest of the Toledo Catholic Diocese. He was not charged at the time and presided over Pahlís funeral Mass.
Police reopened the case in 2003 and arrested Robinson in April 2004. The cold case squad said it suspected that blood spatters left at the crime scene matched a letter opener in Robinsonís possession.
After his arrest investigators said they believed a ďceremonyĒ had taken place inside the chapel in conjunction with the slaying but did not elaborate. Robinson is the only one who has been charged.
Several events led to the case being reopened. In June 2003, an unidentified woman went to the Toledo Diocese seeking reimbursement for her therapy. She presented officials there with a letter claiming she was a childhood victim of clerical sexual abuse by Robinson, according to the Toledo Blade, which obtained a copy of the letter.
The woman claimed to be the victim of Satanic ritualistic sexual abuse
perpetrated by a number of priests who were involved in a cult, the newspaper said.
Prosecutors said they were unaware of the letter until after the woman who wrote it gave a copy to Claudia Vercellotti, a Toledo leader of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests.
Vercellotti forwarded it to the Ohio attorney generalís office in September 2003, saying she thought church officials were not moving on it. The state office in turn sent the letter to Lucas County prosecutors, causing them to reopen the case in December of that year.
Police have said they asked the diocese to voluntarily surrender all documents in Robinsonís file but only got three pages.
In September 2004, the diocese was served with a warrant and surrendered over 100 documents. The diocese has consistently refused to discuss the case, citing a court gag order.
Robinson has not faced any criminal charges of sexual abuse.
Prosecutors expect the murder trial in Lucas County Circuit Court to last from three to four weeks.
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© 2006 MSNBC.com
Not to offend you Catholics out there but, the church has a long and colorful history of this sort of thing and many others. I belong to no organised religion simply because I get really bad "vibes" from all of them. The thing is I believe that the Catholic Church is really a cover for evil and that Satan has his throne somewhere in the Vatican. If you look at Mexico, where people are starving, they are told to have more children since it is a blessing from GOD. Now 99 percent of Mexicans there are starving and coming to America. Why does the Catholic church turn it's back on them and not help them? At least the Mormans will give you something to eat! Carl Marx predicted that America would be a Spanish speaking country in the future... much to the delight of the Catholic church! The Catholic church is trying to populate the world with Catholics just as the Mormon church is trying to populate the world with Mormons! You may hate my opinion and even hate me personally for my opinion but I know for a fact that the leaders of these organisations are doing more harm to the world and the people of it than they are doing good. The longer they can keep us brainwashed the longer they will sit on high suppressing anything they do not want us to know and telling us anything that keeps us docile. There is only ONE TRUTH in the entire universe and that truth is inside every one of us. Until we find that and come together as a complete community on our own and for the good of all, these tyrants will keep this world just as it is today... one big mess!