TOLEDO -- Just after police arrested Father Gerald Robinson for the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, many of his former parishioners collected money for his defense. News 11 talked with Toledo Catholics Thursday to get a sense of the support the priest has now.
Many of those we spoke with said it's hard to believe that a priest would commit this kind of crime. "I wish this whole thing hadn't taken place," said Jack Sparagowski, one of the leading supporters of Father Robinson.
Sparagowski attended St. Anthony's Church at the time when Father Robinson was the pastor there. "He's a very, very good man, and really I would describe him as a priests' priest," he told News 11.
Jerome LaScola used to attend St. Anthony's before it was closed. We caught up with him and others at a meeting where participants are working to establish a Polish-based Catholic church. LaScola thinks the jury can be impartial. "I do support Father Robinson," he said. "I don't believe he did it -- but if the prosecution has overwhelming evidence, then the jury will have to do what they believe is right."
Catholic Wayne Kott is reserving judgment for now. "I'll have to wait to see what the facts are," Kott told us. "I hope justice will be done, and all the facts are out from all sides," he said. Kott added, "Anything that has to do with something out of the norm, people are interested in it -- especially with the amount of Catholics around here."
"Of course it brings attention because of all the scandals through the Catholic church," said LaScola.
"I hope people don't judge him based on what some other bad priests have done in the past," Sparagowski said.
News 11 asked Sparagowski to give us his reaction to two different scenarios: an acquittal and a conviction. He said he would feel wonderful about an acquittal, but he would be shocked if there's a conviction. He said doesn't think that will happen.
Sparagowski and others in his group are holding a special mass this Saturday. It will be a Catholic service in the Advent Lutheran Church at the corner of McCord Rd. and Sylvania Avenue. It starts at 4:00 PM, and will be said for both Father Robinson and Sister Margaret Ann Pahl.