Diocese Suspends Priest Accused of Murder

TOLEDO -- The Diocese of Toledo has placed a priest accused of murder on a leave of absence. Father Gerald Robinson was arrested Friday night in connection with the murder if Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in 1980. Her body was found in the chapel of Mercy Hospital.

Father Robinson has been held in the Lucas County Jail since his arrest. Tuesday, Bishop Leonard Blair of the Diocese of Toledo visited Robinson in jail, and delivered the news that the diocese had put him on a leave of absence. The diocese says Father Robinson accepted the restrictions.

The leave of absence means Father Robinson is excluded from public ministry. He can only celebrate Mass alone with no one else present, and he may not celebrate the other sacraments of the church.

Before his visit to the jail, Bishop Leonard Blair spoke to Dan Bumpus of News 11. Speaking of the murder charge faced by Father Robinson, Bishop Blair said, "I'm completely shocked and deeply troubled that one of our priests could be accused of such a thing." He went on to add, "Obviously the police and the prosecutor have determined there is new or compelling evidence to make this charge."

In a statement today, Bishop Blair also said the church had been investigating Robinson for other allegations not connected to the murder case. But last December, the church's investigation was slowed when prosecutors told the diocese "not to contact Father Robinson" because the murder case had been reopened.

In the meantime, Robinson was allowed to stay on the job. "If police reinvestigate a case and they do not bring a charge against him, on what basis would I remove him?" asked Blair.

The murder case against Father Gerald Robinson will go to a Lucas County grand jury later this week. Count on News 11 for complete coverage of this developing story.

Posted 8:30pm, Tuesday, April 27, 2004 by AEB