4.17.2006

Remember When Catholic Priests Only Molested Children?
Sigh, Those Were the Days...

Priest Headed to Trial Over Nun's Slaying

from The Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio - When Sister Margaret Ann Pahl's body was found the day before Easter 26 years ago, she had been strangled and stabbed in a hospital chapel. The wounds on her chest and neck resembled a cross.

Jury selection was to begin Monday in the murder trial of the man accused of her killing, the Rev. Gerald Robinson, the same Roman Catholic priest who presided at Pahl's funeral Mass.

Robinson, 68, is accused of strangling and stabbing Pahl in 1980 at the hospital where they worked. Investigators have not disclosed a motive for the slaying but said it may have been some kind of ritual slaying.

Investigators who reopened the murder after two decades say they found bloodstains on an altar cloth that matched those from a sword-shaped letter opener. Police now believe the letter opener, found in Robinson's room, was the murder weapon.

Prosecutors plan to use Robinson's statements made to police, including a claim that someone else had confessed to killing the woman. He later admitted making that up, according to an investigator's testimony earlier this year.

Robinson was the chaplain at Mercy Hospital and worked closely with the nun, who was the caretaker of the hospital chapel. Investigators took Robinson into custody in April 2004. They also exhumed the nun's body two years ago and gathered DNA samples.

Police have said the killing may have been some kind of ritual slaying because of evidence found in the chapel and because Pahl's body was posed to look as though she had been sexually assaulted, even though investigators say she wasn't.

Robinson, who is free on bail, could get life in prison if convicted of murder.

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