Former Priest Doesn't Attend Parole Hearing
By Justin McIntosh
February 23, 2005
The former Churchtown priest convicted of sexual acts with a 17-year-old boy will remain in jail for at least another year after declining a parole hearing Tuesday in Wyoming.
In April, Anthony Jablonowski, the former pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Churchtown, was convicted of indecent liberties with a minor while he was in Wyoming 20 years ago. The allegations came to light in 2002.
On Tuesday, Jablonowski was up for his first parole hearing, which came just 10 months after being sentenced to a 15-month to seven-year sentence. Jablonowski accepted the sentence after agreeing to plead no contest to the charges.
Patrick Anderson, executive director of the Wyoming Board of Parole, said Jablonowski declined to go to his hearing and will not be up for parole again for about another year. He continues to serve time at the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton, Wyo., a minimum security facility with a treatment program for sexual offenders.
Anderson said he did not know why Jablonowski waived his hearing, but generally inmates skip the hearing for one of two reasons.
"Some inmates prefer to do their time rather than be under supervision in the street," Anderson said. "Some don't feel they have any realistic chance (at parole)."
Jablonowski was a priest at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Churchtown from 2000 to about 2003 when he left the nearly 700-member church to devote more time to the Carmelite Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, a religious community he established in Waterford. According to the diocese in Cheyenne, Wyo., Jablonowski came to the Steubenville diocese in 1997 to establish the religious community. St. John's falls under the jurisdiction of the Steubenville Diocese.
The Steubenville Diocese was unavailable for comment about Jablonowski's parole hearing, but the Cheyenne Diocese issued a statement against Jablonowski's release.
"Bishop David Ricken has written to the Wyoming Parole Board to express his opposition to any release of Tony Jablonowski at this time," said Paula Glover, spokeswoman with the Diocese of Cheyenne, reading the written response.
Leading the letter writing campaign to keep Jablonowski from being released is the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy sexual abuse victims.
The network wrote letters to the Steubenville Diocese and the Cheyenne Diocese encouraging them to write the Wyoming Parole Board.
Judy Jones, the Steubenville leader of the clergy abuse support network, said the group still considers Jablonowski a threat to the safety of children and hopes the campaign against Jablonowski's parole hearing will encourage other victims to come forward.
"He's definitely a dangerous man," Jones said.
Jablonowski's lawyer, Dallas Laird, of Casper, Wyo., declined to comment on the parole hearing, saying he was still trying to find out the results of the hearing himself.
A representative from the Carmelite community that Jablonowski founded also declined to comment about the parole hearing.
According to Wyoming state laws, "indecent liberties with a minor" involves sexual acts between a youth and an authority figure. Jablonowski has denied that the acts were sexual in nature. He said they were for spiritual purposes, calling the acts penitential prayers.
Dawn Harris, 34, of Pensacola, Fla., said she was concerned that Jablonowski was still contacting her children from prison.
Harris was married to Jablonowski's adopted son, Michael Harris. The couple have three children, all in or near their teen-age years.
Harris said she was concerned because the content of the letters from Jablonowski detailed the background of his case.
"The things that he's writing are inappropriate," said Harris, who is writing a letter to assistant warden at the minimum security facility to keep Jablonowski from writing to her children. "This is not information that needs to be discussed with teen-agers, with kids."
Harris was also concerned this contact was contrary to the directives handed down from the Steubenville Diocese. The diocese put Jablonowski under disciplinary directives in 2003, a year after the allegations arose. He was told he could no longer act as a priest or engage in public ministry as a result of the allegations that surfaced in Wyoming.
The Steubenville diocese covers 13 counties in eastern and southern Ohio. Since 1950 there have been 17 sexual abuse claims in the diocese, although no specific names of priests or churches were released as part of a national report on sexual abuse by priests.
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