Montgomery Files New Sex Charges against Priest

By Marie Belson
Washington Times
February 28, 1991

A Catholic priest who is scheduled to stand trial for molesting an Arlington boy has been arrested in Montgomery County on several charges of sexually abusing a youth there.

The Rev. Thomas Chleboski Jr., 31, was arrested at 8:15 a.m. yesterday at the Holy Cross Monastery in Berryville, Va. The Clarke County Sheriff's Department took him into custody on a fugitive warrant and turned him over to Montgomery County Police Department investigators, county police said.

Father Chleboski is charged in Montgomery County with four counts of child abuse, two counts of third-degree sexual assault, three counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of unnatural and perverted sexual practice.

Law enforcement sources have said the priest also is being investigated in the District on similar allegations. Metropolitan Police declined to comment last night.

The 10 Montgomery County charges involve one boy. The acts allegedly occurred between 1985 and 1988 at three different locations. Two of the locations are St. Jude's Catholic Church in Rockville and St. Martin's Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, where Father Chleboski was assigned, said Detective Gary Costello of the Montgomery County Police Youth Division. The third location was not disclosed.

The Montgomery County boy was 13 years old in 1985 when the incidents began, Mr. Costello said.

Father Chleboski was released yesterday afternoon on $10,000 cash bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 22 in Montgomery County District Court in Rockville.

In a statement released last night, the Archdiocese of Washington expressed "great sorrow and sympathy for everyone involved . . . if these charges are proven to be true."

The statement also asserted that Father Chleboski was never a fugitive from justice. Rather, he had been sent to a "comprehensive facility" in New Mexico for counseling when the archdiocese first learned of the Arlington allegations. He voluntarily returned in January to face those charges filed against him.

He was then sent to the monastery in Berryville, according to the statement from the archdiocese.

Father Chleboski, through his attorneys, denied the allegations.

The statement stressed that the archdiocese acted "responsibly and cooperated fully" with the investigations.

Father Chleboski's personal attorneys, Timothy J. Battle and Robert E. Battle, would not comment on his arrest yesterday.

Previously, speaking for the priest, they denied the allegations of the Arlington youth.

Father Chleboski's latest arrest resulted from a cooperative investigation involving Arlington County and Montgomery County Police departments and the FBI. An investigation is continuing.

Last month, Father Chleboski, formerly a priest at Our Lady of Victory Church in Northwest, was charged with six counts of sexual assault against a 13-year-old Arlington boy who attended the parish school in the District.

An Arlington County grand jury later indicted him on charges of fondling, sexual battery and other offenses stemming from alleged incidents between Sept. 20 and Dec. 4 in the student's home in south Arlington. The incidents allegedly occurred in the afternoon while his mother, a single parent, was at work.

The Arlington teen who is now charging that he was molested, had three times denied to his mother that Father Chleboski had sexually assaulted him. The boy also denied that the priest did anything that made him uncomfortable, according to a published account.

A trial date has been scheduled for March 25 in Arlington Circuit Court.


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