Gag Order Issued in Priest Sex Abuse Case

September 24, 2005

(JASPER, Ind.) -- A suspended Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting a mentally disabled 19-year-old man told police the contact was consensual, according to court records obtained before a judge issued a gag order in the case.

The Rev. Wilfred L. Englert, 52, an associate pastor at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Jasper, faces felony charges of deviant sexual conduct and two counts of sexual battery in Orange County and two sexual battery counts in Dubois County.

Dubois Circuit Court Judge William Weikert imposed a gag order Friday that prohibits attorneys, investigators and court employees form discussing or releasing records in the case.

The order was requested by Englert's attorney, John Goodridge, who also is seeking a change of venue in the case because of news coverage in the area. Goodridge also filed similar motions in Orange County, where a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3.

According to court records obtained before the gag order was imposed, Englert allegedly told state police that he had sexual contact with the man but that it was consensual.

According to court records, the man functions at the level of a 9-year-old.

Investigators said Englert molested the man at a house in Dubois County and again at Patoka Lake in Orange County between April and June 2005. The teenager, who lives with his parents, called police July 18.

Evansville diocese officials suspended Englert on July 21 and he moved from the parish rectory the next day. He surrendered to authorities in Jasper, about 45 miles northeast of Evansville, on Aug. 11 and was later released on $1,000 bond.

Englert has been a priest in the diocese since 1986. His past assignments have included St. John the Baptist church in Newburgh and St. Joseph church and Holy Rosary church in Evansville.


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