Accused Priest To Be Arraigned Monday

TOLEDO--Father Gerald Robinson is set to be arraigned Monday on murder charges.

66-year-old Robinson is charged in the murder of a Catholic nun 24 years ago. Sister Margaret Pahl's body was found strangled and stabbed about 30 times inside a chapel of Mercy hospital in 1980. No one was ever charged with her murder until now.

On Sunday, News 11 sources told us that the investigation of Father Robinson started 5 months ago after a letter surfaced accusing several Catholic priests of satanic rituals. A source, who has seen the letter, says three priest are  mentioned in the letter including Father Robinson.

Police and prosecutors would not comment about the letter or whether they believe the allegations are valid. But, we have been told that that the mention of Father Robinson's name in the letter prompted cold case detectives to re-open the 1980 murder case of Sister Margaret Pahl.

Police told News 11 that Sister Margaret Pahl was killed during "some type of ceremony" on Holy Saturday inside one of Mercy's chapel. But, was Father Robinson responsible and, does he have a history of ritualistic ceremonies? Claudia Vercelotti is part of SNAP, the survivors network of those abused by priests. "Father Robinson has been on our radar for well over a year. We know and we know the diocese knows that Father Robinson has been on the radar."

In fact, a News 11 source says a woman wrote a letter and told the diocesan review board last summer that she was sexually and physically abused by priests for several years as a child. A source, who read the letter says, the woman claims she was placed in a coffin with cockroaches, forced to eat cockroaches, forced to eat what she believed to be a human eyeball, penetrated with a snake to rid her of Satan. The woman also claimed she watched clerics kill an infant and a young child, and watched dog mutilated.

We talked with a diocesan spokesperson and she says the allegations made in the victim's letter were directed at another priest, not Father Robinson.  She said Robinson was only named in that letter and that no formal charges were filed against him.

Sources say the Lucas County Prosecutor was aware of the allegations in the letter, but it's unclear whether an investigation was conducted. Regardless, SNAP members are sending this message. "We are urging and encouraging survivors", said Vercelotti, " and all Catholics that we need to continue getting answers and victims need to continue coming forward and not allow what happened 24 years ago to continue in secrecy and silence."

Updated Monday, April 26, 2004 at 7:12 a.m. kbihn@wtol.com