Priest Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

United Press International
May 15, 1991

A Roman Catholic priest who works at a high school was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student.

Rev. Samuel Pusateri, 41, was freed on $150,000 bond after his sentencing Tuesday. He was ordered by Bureau County Judge David Carter to surrender on May 28, when he will be transferred to the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet.

Pusateri has worked as a teacher, chaplain and counselor at the St. Bede Academy near Peru for the last 20 years.

Pusateri had originally pleaded not guilty to the December assault, which took place in at his office at St. Bede Abbey. His trial had been set for June 10 but he changed his plea on Tuesday and was sentenced.

Bureau County State's Attorney Marc Bernabei, who graduated from St. Bede and has a child at the high school, called the six-year prison sentence ''appropriate and warranted.'' He said a long sentence was deserved because the priest used his position to take advantage of the victim.

Pusateri could have received a minimum four years in prison and a maximum 15 years for the crime.


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