Alex Constantine - May 12, 2006
TOLEDO, Ohio -- After six hours of deliberations, a
jury in Lucas County Common Pleas Court found a priest
guilty of killing a nun in a Toledo hospital chapel in
There were gasps in the courtroom as the verdict was
read just after 11:30 a.m.
The jurors did not look at the Rev. Gerald Robinson as
they left the courtroom. Robinson showed no visible
reaction in the courtroom.
Judge Thomas Osowik immediately sentenced Robinson,
68, to the mandatory term of 15 years to life in
prison. That means he will be eligible for parole
after 15 years.
Robinson has been on trial for the past two weeks,
accused of killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl the day
before Easter in the chapel at Mercy Hospital.
Prosecutors contend the killing was sparked by the
priest's simmering anger over Pahl's domineering ways.
The nun was stabbed through an altar cloth with the
punctures forming an upside down cross and annointed
with a smudge of her blood on the forehead to humilate
her in death, prosecutors said.
The priest has denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement, the Diocese of Toledo calls this "a
sad day" and says it hopes the conclusion of the trial
can bring some healing to all those affected by the
Assistant Lucas County Prosecutor Dean Mandros said he
was surprised jurors came back with their decision
after only about six hours of deliberations. But
Mandros said his team always believed it was right in
going after Robinson and always believed Robinson lied
to police about his whereabouts when Pahl was killed.
Defense attorney John Thebes said when the jury's
verdict was read, he and Robinson shared the same
emotion: shock. But he said his team did everything
they possibly could.
The priest's lawyers say they intend to appeal.
The case against Rev. Robinson: What the jury didn't
By Harriet Ryan
TOLEDO, Ohio The jury that convicted the Rev. Gerald
Robinson Thursday listened to 41 witnesses during the
three-week trial, but they did not hear every piece of
information authorities uncovered in the course of
Prosecutors were barred by law from presenting some
evidence against the priest. Other information was
deemed irrelevant to the murder of Sr. Margaret Ann
Pahl or open to too many interpretations to benefit
their case. Among the things jurors did not hear:
The polygraph. Two weeks after the murder, Robinson
failed a lie detector exam given by a police
investigator. A retest administered by a polygrapher
hired by the Catholic diocese the next month was
inconclusive. The defense has said the priest was too
exhausted and stressed from the police interrogation
for the test to be effective.
S&M allegation. In 2003, a nun told a diocesan panel
that she was sexually abused by Robinson when she was
15. She claimed that another priest paid her father to
let Robinson engage her in sadomasochistic acts
involving a whip. The same woman also alleged she was
raped repeatedly as a girl during satanic rituals led
by priests. Authorities have not been able to
substantiate or disprove her charges.
Occult book. When police searched Robinson's home in
2004, they found a pamphlet entitled "The Occult."
Many passages were underlined, including one
describing a black Mass in which "an innocent" was
used as an altar. The booklet was published by a
Catholic group in the 1970s, before the murder, but it
was unclear whether Robinson obtained it before or
after the murder.
Swiatecki's pleas. When police interviewed Robinson
about two weeks after the murder, the other hospital
chaplain, Rev. Jerome Swiatecki, accompanied him to
the station. According to the detectives, Swiatecki
the son of a police officer emphatically and
repeatedly urged Robinson to "just tell them the
truth." Some in law enforcement have speculated that
Robinson confessed to Swiatecki, but that Swiatecki
would have been bound by the seal of the confessional
not to reveal any details.
Coffin photos. Police officers searching Robinson's
house in 2004 found hundreds of photos of corpses in
coffins. Some appeared to be very old and European.
Although taking pictures of dead relatives is common
among some ethnic traditions, the sheer number in the
priest's house suggested that not all of the dead were