Md. Ex-Priest Pleads Guilty to Sex Charges; Man Molested Deaf Boys He Befriended in the 1970s

By David Montgomery
Washington Post
September 27, 1996

A former Catholic priest in Prince George's County pleaded guilty yesterday to six counts of molesting deaf boys he befriended in the early 1970s. He seduced them by promising that having sexual relations with him was authorized by the Bible.

William Earl "Jay" Krouse IV met the six boys — including three brothers — when he was a teacher and pastor at the Catholic Deaf Center in Landover Hills and the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick. The boys were 10 to 14 years old when the abuse took place, between about 1970 and 1978, prosecutors said.

At different times, Krouse took all six boys to the wrestling room of Cole Field House at the University of Maryland, where his father was the varsity wrestling coach. What happened next was similar in each case: He would show the boy the sauna and the steam room, offer a massage, then begin to remove his and the boy's clothes, and sexual contact would begin, said Lloyd Johnson, assistant state's attorney.

Krouse, 50, stood silently wearing a tan suit in a courtroom in Upper Marlboro yesterday as the prosecutor detailed this activity, the basis for six counts of "unnatural and perverted sex practice" upon children. When Circuit Court Judge Steven I. Platt asked if he understood what he was pleading guilty to, Krouse said softly, "Yes, sir."

Krouse is the fifth Catholic priest from Prince George's charged with abusing children in the last two years. In January 1995, four priests were stripped of their religious authority and charged with sexual abuse of altar boys during the 1970s and 1980s. One was acquitted, one was convicted and the other two pleaded guilty.

State's Attorney Jack B. Johnson said the Krouse case was the most egregious of the cases involving priests because Krouse had ensnared his victims through two levels of deceit. He befriended the boys and their parents under the pretext of wanting to learn sign language. "Most egregious of all, he used the argument that the Bible justified these acts," Johnson said.

Krouse would tell the boys that premarital sex with women was bad but that mutual masturbation and fellatio with a priest were acceptable ways to release sexual urges, "implying there was a spiritual and biblical foundation for that conduct," Lloyd Johnson said.

Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Under a plea agreement, one count each of child abuse involving two of the boys was dropped. As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors also agreed that Krouse's sentences would run concurrently, rather than one after the other, so his maximum possible sentence is 10 years.

Jack Johnson said he had to balance his desire for a long sentence against the pain to the victims of having to testify at six trials.

After the plea bargain was entered, one of Krouse's victims said outside the courtroom, in words translated from American Sign Language by court interpreter Betty Colonomos: "I'm happy he admitted his guilt. We're really not happy about the maximum sentence. . . . I feel like it is his time to suffer."

Krouse voluntarily left the ministry and has not been active for nearly 10 years, according to the Archdiocese of Washington. He was a respected executive of a service organization for the deaf in Oakland Park, Fla., before he was arrested in March. He will be sentenced Nov. 19.

In his plea, Krouse admitted that the three victims who weren't members of the same family were abused one time each in Cole Field House. His sexual encounters with the three brothers continued over several years, not only in the field house but also at his home, a hotel and other locations.

After court adjourned, the brothers gathered outside the courtroom with their parents, who also are deaf, and several friends from the deaf community. With Colonomos translating, they described the long-term consequences of being betrayed by a revered figure. They said they only really began to recover last year, when they decided to press charges. Each had thought he was alone in having been molested by the priest until they confided for the first time last year.

"He had the white collar, and of course I trusted him," one brother said.

Another brother, now 38 and in the home improvement business in Florida, said Krouse introduced him to beer, cigarettes and pornography. "I didn't have a normal childhood," he said. Later, he had flashbacks to his encounters with Krouse. Last year, a therapist encouraged him to go to police — setting off the investigation.

Krouse and his attorney left the courtroom by a side entrance without comment. No friends or family of Krouse's were present.


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