Priest Pleads Guilty to Abusing Former Altar Boy in Rockville
By Arlo Wagner
A Catholic priest pleaded guilty in Rockville yesterday to three counts of sexually abusing an altar boy, including an incident in the boy's home just after his grandmother died.
Thomas Casper Chleboski, 30, could be sentenced to from four years and three months to 12 years in prison when he returns to Circuit Court on Oct. 1 before Judge William B. Cave. He pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse and one count of unnatural and perverted sex act.
Under the plea agreement, Judge Cave could order the prison sentence to be served consecutively or concurrently with sentences for similar crimes committed by Chleboski in Arlington and the District, said Assistant State's Attorney Frank Molony. Seven other charges will be dropped, he said.
The incidents in Montgomery County, all involving a youth now 19 years old, occurred between Dec. 1, 1985 and mid-1989 while Chleboski was assigned to St. Jude's Catholic Church, north of Wheaton, and St. Martin's Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Mr. Molony said.
"Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?" Judge Cave asked.
Chleboski, a chunky man with light brown hair, softly answered: "Unfortunately, yes, your honor."
The Arlington and D.C. cases, set off Jan. 8 when an Arlington mother reported her suspicions to police, caused investigators to examine Chleboski's tenure in Montgomery County from 1985, when he was at St. Jude's and attending Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md., while awaiting ordination. The trail led to a former Rockville altar boy now attending college in Ohio.
"I thought that stage of my life was over," the young man told his mother when she called. The parents were unaware of what happened and thought Chleboski had assumed an older brother role toward their only son, Mr. Molony said.
The young man said he could recount 60 to 65 instances of abuse, which he frequently tried to avoid and which ended only when Chleboski became jealous of his girlfriend in 1989, Mr. Molony said.
Chleboski often stayed overnight at the boy's Rockville home. He was there in September 1986 when the boy's grandmother died after a long bout with cancer.
The priest and boy were on a sofa bed in the basement when Chleboski abused the boy, Mr. Molony said.
Once before, the youth resisted and punched a hole in the wall of Chleboski's room at the St. Jude's Rectory. Another time, the boy was handcuffed by Chleboski and screamed in pain, said Mr. Molony.
When another priest asked what was going on, Chleboski said he and the boy had argued, the prosecutor said.
Chleboski first fondled the boy one night in 1986 as they returned in a car from a visit to Chleboski's family in Pennsylvania. Mr. Molony said Chleboski forced himself on the boy the next day, saying, "Everything you can do with your girlfriend, you can do with me."
Many of the incidents were confirmed last February when the Rockville youth called Chleboski at a monastery in Berryville, Va. Mr. Molony said the telephone conversation was recorded and transcribed into a 30-page statement.
Chleboski pleaded guilty in Arlington County Circuit Court on March 23 to seven charges of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Arlington boy. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison and 15 years probation on those charges.
Some incidents with the Arlington boy occurred at Our Lady of Victory
Elementary School in the 4700 block of Whitehaven Parkway NW, where Chleboski
taught religion, health and sex education.
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