Priest Indicted In ‘Ritual’ Murder

A Roman Catholic priest has been indicted on an aggravated murder charge in the slaying of a nun 24 years ago.

A grand jury met Friday to consider the charge against the Rev. Gerald Robinson, but its decision was not announced until Monday.

Robinson has been in jail since his arrest April 23 in the strangling and stabbing of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl during Easter weekend in 1980. He was long a suspect in her death.

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The nun’s body was discovered in a chapel at Mercy Hospital, covered by an altar cloth. Investigators have described it as “ritualistic” slaying that has the Toledo Diocese looking into claims of satanic sex abuse by priests.

Robinson’s attorney, Alan Konop, said his client will plead innocent. He cannot face the death penalty because it was not in effect at the time of the killing.

Konop said he expected Robinson to be released Monday because supporters have put together enough property to post a $400,000 property bond to cover his $200,000 bail.

Detectives have said the nun’s death involved some type of ceremony and that they believe Robinson acted alone.

Robinson was arrested after investigators analyzed blood patterns and concluded that the murder weapon was in his “control.” They have not identified the weapon or who owned it.

Investigators began to review the slaying after a woman contacted them alleging she was physically and sexually abused as a child by several priests, including Robinson, police said.

Three other people came forward after Robinson’s arrest claiming they were abused by priests in rituals years ago.

Authorities reopened the murder case in December based on information in a letter sent to prosecutors, but they would not say who sent the letter or what it contained.

Robinson and Sister Pahl worked closely together for several years at Mercy Hospital. He was the hospital chaplain and she was the chapel’s caretaker.

It was Robinson who presided over her funeral.

Some hospital employees told police they suspected he may have been involved in the death because he was one of the few people near the chapel.

In the years since the killing, Robinson had never mentioned the death, friends recall.

He later became pastor at several parishes and administered to residents of nursing homes.

His duties over the last decade mainly have been limited to visiting patients at hospitals and nursing homes and giving last rites. He also performed Mass once a month at a nursing home.

Friends say Robinson was extremely shy. However, he was popular in the city’s Polish neighborhoods, and sometimes delivered sermons and heard confessions in Polish, which he speaks fluently.

“He always drew a big crowd when he would give Mass,” said Mary Ann Plewa, a distant cousin. “People always wanted to come hear him.”

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CBS/Associated Press, USA
May 30, 2004

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