Ohio Diocese Eye Satanic Slay Allegations
Thursday April 29, 2004 5:31 AM
By JOHN SEEWER
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – The Toledo Diocese is taking another look at a woman’s previously dismissed claims of satanic sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests now that one of the clergymen has been charged with the “ritualistic” slaying of a nun 24 years ago.
The Rev. Gerald Robinson was arrested last week on charges of strangling and stabbing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, 71, about 30 times during Easter weekend 1980. Her body, covered by an altar cloth and surrounded by burning candles, was found in a hospital chapel.
Pahl’s body was posed to look as if she had been sexually assaulted, but investigators said they found no evidence of sexual activity.
The woman described satanic ceremonies in which clergy members placed her in a coffin filled with cockroaches, forced her to swallow what she believed to be a human eyeball and penetrated her with a snake “to consecrate these orifices to Satan.”
The diocese had decided not to forward the woman’s claims to authorities because it could not substantiate them.
However, the allegations were brought to the attention of prosecutors in a letter received in December, assistant prosecutor Gary Cook said Monday. He would not say who sent the letter.
It is also common for a sexual offender to kill one of his victims but not the others, he said.
But Kenneth Lanning, a former FBI agent who studied hundreds of cases of alleged satanic abuse, said he found no documented examples of organized group ritual abuse.
“There were cases of bizarre crimes or people dabbling in the occult who performed bizarre crimes,” he said. But he said there no evidence of a group or cult coordinating the abuse.
Robinson remained in jail Wednesday. Supporters said they had enough money and property to meet his $200,000 bail but needed to complete the paperwork. The diocese is not paying the priest’s legal bills.
The Toledo Diocese includes 323,000 Catholics in northwestern Ohio. It has 159 parishes and 287 priests.