Priest Charged in Sex Case Menlo Park: He Had Explicit Chats on Internet with Undercover Cops Posing As Teen Boy, Police Say

By Carole Rafferty
San Jose Mercury News (California)
March 4, 2000

A Menlo Park priest was arrested after a series of explicit sexual conversations on the Internet with undercover officers posing as a 13-year-old boy, police said.

The Rev. Carl A. Schipper, 57, was charged with five counts of shipping harmful matter to minors over the Internet. He posted bail and was released from the San Jose Department of Corrections late Thursday.

He will be arraigned March 16 and faces a maximum of three years in state prison if convicted.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco issued a statement saying that Schipper has been relieved of his duties as academic dean at Menlo Park's St. Patrick's Seminary, where he oversaw the academic studies of theological students. He is on administrative leave.

Authorities said they'd been monitoring Schipper's Internet activities since September. Thursday, armed with search warrants for his Menlo Park office and his Santa Rosa residence, San Jose and Sonoma authorities took away three computers for forensic analysis.

Authorities said their investigation is ongoing.

"This shows a compulsion, it's consistent with what we see as online predator activity," said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney James Sibley.

Sibley said the police investigation began when a 13-year-old boy was reported molested. During a medical examination, medical officers noticed a screen name written in pen on his hand.

Although Schipper is not a suspect in that case, undercover police officers entered the Internet chat room posing as a 13-year-old boy and made contact with Schipper, Sibley said.

"He engaged them in sexual conversations," he said. "They discussed getting together and what they'd do together, but he later backed out because he saw a newspaper article in which someone had been arrested" for a similar act.

Sibley said forensic experts were examining Schipper's computers to determine who else he has been communicating with and what information he has stored.

"It's not uncommon for them to have a support network of like-minded people," Sibley added. "Often they trade information on how not to get caught."

Sibley said Schipper was remarkably honest when describing himself online. He said he was in his 50s with gray hair, adding that he was an educator working with graduate students on the Peninsula near Stanford University.

San Francisco Roman Catholic Archdiocese officials expressed dismay upon hearing of Schipper's arrest.

"Everyone I've talked to is shocked at the news," said Archdiocese spokesman Maurice Healy.

Schipper was ordained in 1968 and has held a series of posts including associate pastor at St. Raymond Parish in Menlo Park, principal at San Mateo's Serra High School, superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Archdiocese, and pastor at St. Gabriel Parish in San Francisco. He spent eight years at St. Patrick's Seminary.

Sibley said police are searching for more victims and anyone with any information should contact Sgt. David Hewett at the San Jose police department's child exploitation unit at (408) 277-4102.


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