Ex-priest Sentenced in Child Pornography Case
By Harold Hayes
April 26, 2014
A former Catholic priest convicted of possessing child pornography was sentenced to jail in court on Friday.
“He’s very ill,” said defense attorney John Knorr. “It very well may turn out to be a life sentence.”
That’s how David Dzermejko’s lawyer reacted to the three-year federal prison sentence imposed on his client after being convicted of possessing child pornography.
He was removed from priestly duties, which included pastorates in Charleroi and Ross Township.
The present case involved 100 to 300 child pornography images, but a longstanding dispute within the church about prior allegations surfaced in this case as well.
Michael Klein, the brother of Peter Klein who committed suicide in 2009 claiming abuse by Dzermejko, testified at Friday’s hearing quoting his brother’s diary.
According to one diary entry, “I started to recall how he touched me and made me touch him. I couldn’t have been the only one.”
“He couldn’t rid himself of the nightmare,” said Klein.
Those issues were hotly contested during an investigation by the diocese when Dzermejko pastored in the 1970s.
Judge Nora Barry Fisher allowed the testimony Friday, but Knorr argued it’s not relevant to the sentencing.
“The judge indicated that she would give it the weight that it deserves,” Knorr said. “I think that’s kind of a disguised way of saying it didn’t affect the sentence. The judge indicated she did what I asked her to do, which was simply to pay attention to the charge that my client had pled guilty to.”
When it was his time to speak, Dzermejko denied sexual improprieties while a priest.
He begins to serve his three-year sentence in June. Terms of his probation includes no contact with anyone under 18.