|Priest Fails in Bid to Halt Abuse Case
Robinson Suit Will Proceed
By David Yonke
March 13, 2008
COLUMBUS - The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday allowed a Toledo woman's lawsuit against Gerald Robinson to continue in which she claims she repeatedly was raped and tortured by the Toledo Catholic priest in satanic rituals when she was a child.
In a 4-2 decision, the state's high court declined to hear an appeal filed by the priest's attorneys seeking to dismiss the suit.
Robinson, 69, was convicted in a separate, high-profile case in 2006 of murdering Sister Margaret Ann Pahl 26 years earlier. He is serving a sentence of 15 years to life in the Hocking Correctional Facility in southern Ohio.
Yesterday's Supreme Court action sends the Toledo woman's case back to Lucas County Common Pleas Court, where a pretrial hearing with Judge Ruth Ann Franks is set for March 27.
"It's huge in our favor. We can now proceed on the merits of the case, " said Mark Davis, attorney for the woman.
John Donahue, a Perrysburg attorney representing Robinson, expressed disappointment.
"That's too bad," he said. "Two of the justices felt the issue was of great public interest, but we needed four."
The woman sued anonymously as Survivor Doe with her husband, Spouse Doe, claiming Robinson and Toledoan Jerry Mazuchowski were part of a group that dressed as nuns and used fake names when they raped and tortured her between 1968 and 1975.
Now in her mid-40s, the woman claims that her abusers chanted Satanic verses, cut her with a knife as a sacrifice to Satan, drew an upside-down cross on her abdomen, and forced her to drink the blood of sacrificed animals.
She said the men dressed in nuns' clothing, used fake names such as "Carrie Jerry" and "Mary Jerry," and performed the rituals while she was on a table. She said they restrained her if she tried to leave.
Survivor Doe said the abuse took place in the basement of St. Adalbert Church in North Toledo until 1972, when it was moved to an undisclosed wooded area.
The lawsuit, filed in April, 2005, contends that Father Robinson and Mr. Mazuchowski "had a close relationship with Survivor Doe's mother, who also participated in the ceremonies in the woods and was becoming [a] high priestess of Satan."
Judge Franks dismissed the suit in January, 2007, saying the statute of limitations had expired. But Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals reinstated the case in October. The appeals court cited four reasons that Survivor Doe's case was unique:
•She did not know her alleged abusers' identities until she recognized them in the media in 2004 and 2005.
•Her alleged abusers "successfully controlled Survivor Doe during the abusive years by threatening to kill her if she told."
•The victim had been psychologically impaired by the trauma.
•She never considered that her perpetrators could be priests because of her "indoctrination in the Roman Catholic Church."
Supreme Court Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton and Terrence O'Donnell dissented in yesterday's action.
Justice Judith Lanzinger did not participate. She led the Toledo Bishop's Study Committee for Sexual Abuse that drafted a 1995 policy on handling reports of clerical sexual abuse.
Mr. Mazuchowski could not be reached for comment yesterday but previously called the woman's allegations against him "nonsense."
Yesterday's Supreme Court action was included in a list of cases that the high court declined to review, giving no reason or explanation.
Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair barred Robinson from ministry shortly after the priest's arrest in April, 2004. Robinson, who turns 70 on April 14, retired in 2004 but he has not been defrocked and remains an ordained priest.
A hearing on Robinson's murder conviction is scheduled for Monday in Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals.
Contact David Yonke at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.
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