An Appeal and a Civil Suit in Father Robinson's Future

Father Gerald Robinson's mug shot.
Father Gerald Robinson's mug shot.

TOLEDO -- The appeals process will soon begin for Father Gerald Robinson, but for now he remains in the medical ward of the Lucas County jail -- with a sentence of 15 years to life looming before him. He was sentenced Thursday by Judge Thomas Osowik immediately after the jury found the priest guilty of murdering Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in 1980.

Jail administrators tell News 11 that Robinson is in the medical ward to keep him isolated from other inmates.

On Tuesday, Robinson will likely be transferred to state custody in Columbus. That's where the state will decide which prison will house him throughout his sentence. Robinson will not be allowed to wear his clerical garb in prison, nor will he be allowed to celebrate mass even for himself.

Father Robinson's legal troubles are not over just yet. Soon we could hear more about a bizarre civil suit against him which was on hold until his trial ended.

Claudia Vercelotti from the group called SNAP -- an acronym for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- said, "This case has embodied far more than a murder that is even possible. It embodies a culture of cover-up for years."

In this pending civil lawsuit, which names Father Gerald Robinson and the Toledo Catholic Dioceses as defendants, a woman identified only as "Jane Doe" claims that Robinson abused her more than 30 years ago when she was a child. Her lawsuit says that Robinson and a lay minister dressed in nun drag drew an upside down cross on her stomach and made her drink the blood of a sacrificed animal. She also said the clergymen would rape and sodomize her and burn her feet.

A lawyer for the Toledo Catholic Diocese argues the statute of limitations for the alleged crimes has passed. They've filed a motion to "dismiss plaintiff's complaint with prejudice on the grounds the matters asserted in the complaint are improperly before this court, and that plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."

Vercelotti says, "I give tremendous credit to Jane Doe for having the courage to speak up when the Ohio laws on the books are so archaic and her case will never see the light of day in [criminal] court."

Cold case investigators Tom Ross and Steve Forrester say it was Jane Doe's allegations -- first made in 2003 -- that prompted them to re-investigate the 1980 murder of Sister Margaret Ann.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for June 5th in Jane Doe's civil suit. News 11 tried to reach Mark Davis, the attorney to who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Jane Doe, but he has not returned our call. Tom Pletz, an attorney for the Toledo Catholic Diocese, said he didn't want to do an interview about the civil suit.

News 11 has also made repeated requests to interview Father Robinson, but he has turned us down each time.

Posted by PJS