Priest Pleads Guilty to Receiving Child Porn at Robertsville Facility

By Peter Shinkle
Post-Dispatch [St. Louis MO]
February 28, 2005

A Roman Catholic priest with a history of sexually abusing children pleaded guilty Monday of receiving child pornography at a Franklin County home for troubled priests.

The Rev. David J. Malsch, 66, admitted that in October 2003 he got child pornography images at the RECON facility on Vondera Drive in Robertsville. He also admitted forwarding child porn from the home to a "pen pal" in Pennsylvania.

RECON, also known as Wounded Brothers, is where a Nevada priest, Mark Roberts, was sentenced to serve a term for his 2003 child molestation conviction.

Another resident is Gerald Chumik, a Franciscan monk who has been a fugitive since 1990 from Canada, where he faces charges of gross indecency with a minor. A victims' support group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has called for Roberts to leave, noting that he is now living just 20 minutes from one of his victims.

David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, said Wounded Brothers is too lax for someone with Malsch's record. "This is what happens when priests oversee other abusive priests in a church-run secretive environment," Clohessy complained.

"This is why men like Malsch belong behind bars and not at a church-run retreat-style facility."

No spokeswoman for Wounded Brothers could be reached Monday. Mark Matousek, its director, described the place in 2002 interview as "a halfway house, mainly for people who have exhausted treatment options and are here for a safe residence."

Jamie Allman, a spokesman for the St. Louis Archdiocese, said Monday that Archbishop Raymond Burke met two weeks ago with Matousek and the Rev. Bertin Miller, who run Wounded Brothers.

Burke expressed "general concerns about security and oversight at that facility," Allman said.

The fact that Malsch admitted receiving and sending child pornography from there "is enough to raise some red flags about how well he was being monitored," Allman said. That is particularly true in "light of the fact that the conviction that brought him here involved supplying pornographic tapes to minors," Allman said.

Allman noted that the facility is run by a Catholic religious order, the Franciscans, not by the archdiocese.

"This is a serious matter, and whether or not we have technical control over what happens there, this facility is in our archdiocese, and we want our feelings known," he said.

In October 2003 federal agents with a warrant found "28 photographs of child pornography or erotica" in Malsch's room, according to the plea agreement.

Said U.S. Attorney Jim Martin, "Clearly, the Wounded Brothers facility failed at preventing this priest from committing crimes and deplorable conduct, and so we have taken the steps necessary to make sure he's put behind bars and has no access to children or pornography."

Malsch faces a minimum term of five years in prison, prosecutors said. U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson set sentencing for June 10.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin said agents tracked Malsch after a raid in California turned up child porn and letters from Malsch thanking another man for sending it to him.

In 1993, Malsch pleaded guilty in Wisconsin of child enticement for an incident in which he was accused of sexually assaulting a boy at a motel. He was sentenced to eight years on probation.

In 2001, Malsch returned to prison for violating probation. A Wisconsin judge found that he was a sexually violent person and civilly committed him to RECON.

A year later, after a Wisconsin newspaper revealed that Malsch had moved from parish to parish after allegations of sexual abuse dating to as early as 1984, Bishop Raphael Fliss of Superior, Wis., apologized for failing to thoroughly investigate Malsch.

In 2003, Malsch admitted to Wisconsin officials that he had molested three minors in "six sex-offending incidents," federal prosecutors here said in court papers.


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