Former Nun Sentenced for Molestation 35 Years Ago

By Jon Frank
The Virginian Pilot [Virginia Beach VA]
September 22, 2004

A 65-year-old former nun who taught at a Beach Catholic school more than 30 years ago was sentenced to serve six months in jail today for molesting one of her male students.

Eileen M. Rhoads was sentenced for two felony sexual convictions and given a 10-year suspended prison sentence in addition to the 6-month jail term. She will not have to serve any of the prison time if she remains on good behavior for 10 years upon her release from jail.

Rhoads was handcuffed and taken into custody immediately following a tension-filled hearing in front of Circuit Judge Edward W. Hanson Jr. during which she was described by her victim and prosecutors as a sexual deviant who might molest again.

"Judge you have before you the face of evil," testified the nunís victim, who is now a 45-year-old man. "And I ask for the most severe sentence that you could impose."

Rhoads apologized moments before she was led away to begin serving her time behind bars.

"I am very, so very, sorry," Rhoads said, turning to look for her victim in the audience. "I apologize with all my heart for any pain I may have caused you. Forgive me and I pray for you that after this is over I hope you can find some peace of mind."

Rhoads was a fifth-grade teacher during the 1969-1970 school year at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School on Virginia Beach Boulevard. Her victim was a student in her class.

He testified today that he was forced to participate in sexual activity in a closet both during and after school for the entire school year. At least two other boys also were involved in molestations by Rhoads, he said. Rhoads sometimes molested each one "serially" on the same day, the victim testified.

Prosecutor Harvey L. Bryant III wanted a longer prison sentence for Rhoads, saying that her crime was not a "one-time act." Other victims were prepared to testify if necessary, Bryant said.

The victim declined to comment following the hearing. But his attorney, James C. Lewis, thanked the prosecution for bringing Rhoads to justice.

"Eileen Rhoads is a predator and the victim felt that a longer prison sentence would have been appropriate punishment," Lewis said. "However, he is thankful to the court and to Mr. Bryant for their hard work."

After leaving Virginia in the early 1970s, Rhoads went to Pennsylvania where she continued to teach. Other allegations of sexual abuse have arisen there against Rhoads since the Virginia Beach charges.

One of the alleged Pennsylvania victims attended todayís hearing and expressed her dissatisfaction with the sentence.

"It seems ridiculous," said the woman, who met Rhoads when she was 11 and in the sixth grade.

The light sentence, she said, is especially grating because the Pennsylvania statute of limitations has expired, leaving her without a chance at criminal charges against Rhoads in that state. That is why she attended the Virginia Beach hearing, she said.

"If there is going to be any justice, this is it," the woman said.


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