|Priest Trial Delayed for 33rd Time
By Dave Wedge
August 22, 2007
A Worcester victims rights group is fuming after the case against an alleged pedophile priest deemed incompetent to stand trial was continued for a 33rd time.
The molestation case against the Rev. John Szantyr has dragged on in Worcester District Court for four years and was again continued Monday because prosecutors didn't receive a doctor's report in time for the hearing.
Szantyr, who faces charges he molested an altar boy in Worcester in the mid-1980s, has already been ruled incompetent by a judge, but District Attorney Joseph Early Jr.'s office called for a new
evaluation "due to information that was brought to our attention."
Among the new information are reports that Szantyr, 76, was seen walking at a rest stop just minutes after he appeared in court in a wheelchair and that he has continued to oversee religious services in Connecticut. Szantyr, who reportedly is too ill to feed, clothe and bathe himself, also recently renewed his Connecticut driver's license, court filings show.
"We need to see that justice is served," said Mary T. Jean, spokeswoman for the clergy abuse support group Worcester Voice, which has criticized prosecutors' handling of the case.
Early said a paperwork snafu led to the latest continuance but that the report was located yesterday. The district attorney is seeking to hold a hearing before the Sept. 25 date set by Judge David Ricciardione.
"I'm doing everything I can to expedite the case," Early said. "We want to see closure."
Szantyr's attorney, Ed Ryan, said his client renewed his license "for identification purposes" and denied that his client drives.
"He's been declared incompetent. He's not getting better," Ryan said. "Frankly, this case should have already been dismissed."
Jean has also criticized court officials for not requiring Szantyr to show up at court hearings. Trial Court spokeswoman Joan Kenney said Ricciardione excused the priest from the next court hearing in accordance with rules that don't require defendants at non-evidentiary proceedings.
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