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  Md. Priest Pleads Guilty in Sex Case
Teen He Was Helping Was Victim of Acts

By Paul Valentine
Washington Post
December 28, 1988

A Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty today to committing perverted sexual acts with a learning-disabled teen-age boy who had come to the priest for counseling in a suburban Baltimore parish.

"This is a tragedy for everyone," said Baltimore County Circuit Judge Dana M. Levitz as he sentenced the Rev. Marion Francis Helowicz, formerly of St. Stephen Church near Kingsville, Md., to two years' probation and 200 hours of community service.

Levitz suspended a six-month jail term, saying incarceration would serve no useful purpose.

Helowicz, 43, who remains a priest but is stripped off all religious and administrative duties, admitted engaging periodically in sexual acts with a teen-age parishioner from July 1982 to February 1984.

Prosecutor Phil Jackson said the youth, who suffered a learning disability from a head injury at age 8, had been befriended by Helowicz. The priest, he said, "became his confidant" and offered him counseling.

The counseling sessions in Helowicz's bedroom at the parish rectory gradually turned into a series of sexual encounters, Jackson said. The youth's family did not learn of the encounters until early this year when they notified authorities, court officials said.

Defense attorney Timothy J. Martin described Helowicz as a popular and hard-working priest who was ordained in 1974.

He said Helowicz has voluntarily undergone church-sponsored therapy at a treatment center in Missouri, where he has received "good grades" so far.

Martin said he was satisfied Helowicz can now "deal with his proclivities . . . and poses not threat to children in the future."

The father of the youth spoke briefly in court, saying his son now lives in Vermont, where he is "heavily medicated . . . trying to get his life together."

Attorneys for the youth's family are contemplating a civil lawsuit against Helowicz and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, Helowicz's employer.

In a similar case in Montgomery County, the Archdiocese of Washington recently agreed to a secret out-of-court settlement for a six-figure sum after a man accused church officials of negligence resulting in his being molested by a priest in the early 1980s.

That priest, the Rev. Peter M. McCutcheon, pleaded guilty to molestation charges and was originally sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment.

The sentence was reduced to probation when he agreed to enter a church-operated treatment center in New Mexico.

 
 

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