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  Menlo Park Priest Arrested in Sex Sting

By Julie N. Lynem
San Francisco Chronicle
March 4, 2000

A Menlo Park priest who had been under investigation for soliciting sex from minors over the Internet has been arrested by San Jose police.

The Rev. Carl Anthony Schipper, 57, was taken into custody about 10 a.m. on Thursday at his Santa Rosa home. Officers arrested him on a $50,000 warrant, charging him with five counts of distributing harmful matter to a minor. He was then booked into the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose.

Schipper, out on bail, could not be reached for comment last night.

He is scheduled to be arraigned March 16, said Deputy District Attorney James Sibley. If convicted, he could face a sentence of as long as three years in state prison.

"This is only the beginning of our investigation," said Sibley. "There are a number of people that we think he sought contact with. Search warrants, phone and computer activity will be able to tell us a lot about his conduct."

San Jose detectives initiated the investigation in September when a teenage boy showed up in the Police Department's sexual-assault unit with an Internet screen name written on his hand. Although the boy did not identify Schipper as a sexual partner, the screen name -- Srcasa -- matched Schipper's. Police then started looking to see whether Schipper had been using his computer to solicit minors.

For six months, undercover officers posing as 13- to 15-year-old boys engaged in more than 20 "explicit" sexual discussions with Schipper, Sibley said. Schipper, he said, approached at least three different officers and asked them if they would like to meet.

Investigators with the department's child-exploitation detail set up a meeting with the priest, but Schipper backed out, Sibley said. detectives obtained search warrants for Schipper's home in Santa Rosa, and his personal quarters and office at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, where he works as an instructor and sometimes lives.

Police have seized Schipper's computers at the seminary and his home in Sonoma County, said Lt. Eric Sills, an investigator in the department's sexual-assault investigation unit. Investigators will conduct forensic searches of Schipper's hard drives to see if there is unlawful material or records of the conversations.

Schipper's arrest came as a surprise to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said spokesman Maurice Healy. Church officials first found out about Schipper's arrest when officers served the seminary with a search warrant, he said.

Schipper has been relieved of his duties at St. Patrick's and placed on administrative leave, Healy said.

"It's premature to talk about the effects of it all," Healy said yesterday. "It's a shock. Obviously, he had served very highly in the archdiocese in his past positions. The reaction is of genuine shock and dismay if the charges prove to be true."

Schipper, who had been assigned to St. Patrick's Seminary for the past eight years, has a long history of teaching in San Mateo County.

After being ordained in 1968, he became associate pastor of St. Raymond's in Menlo Park. He became a member of the faculty at Junipero Serra High School in 1970 and took the post of principal in 1975 before leaving in 1978.

He also served as superintendent of the archdiocese schools and as pastor of St. Gabriel's Church in San Francisco.

 
 

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