Arrest Warrant Issued for Priest Who Molested Boy

By Tom McGinty
August 3, 2007,0,319617.story

A Suffolk County judge Thursday issued an arrest warrant for a former Catholic priest who recently moved to Missouri, after spending the past three years saying he was too ill to return from Maryland to Suffolk to go to jail on child molestation charges.

Barry Ryan, 58, of Palm City, Fla., confessed to abusing a 5-year-old boy while visiting a private home on Long Island in 2003.

Ryan pleaded guilty in October 2004 to sodomy, but because he was suffering from terminal liver cancer, the victim's family agreed on a sentence of only two years, possibly to be served outside of prison.

He was formally sentenced in December 2004, but Suffolk County Court Judge Ralph Gazzillo agreed to put off sending him to jail, believing he would soon die. Ryan told his victim's family at the time, "I welcome my own death. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

But nearly three years later, Ryan is still alive and has spent much of his time at the St. Luke Institute, a church-run facility in Maryland. Gazzillo has kept delaying locking Ryan up as his attorney insisted that the former clergyman remains in poor health and that his death is imminent.

Prosecutors said the former priest on Wednesday night made what appeared to be yet another effort to avoid incarceration by making superficial cuts on his own neck, as if he were trying to kill himself.

That prompted Gazzillo yesterday to issue a warrant for Ryan's arrest -- a move that was praised by the victim's family.

Ryan's attorney, Joseph Ostrowsky of Brooklyn, said his client's condition is unstable, adding, "I do know Mr. Ryan is terrified of going to jail."

"Most people are," Gazzillo replied.

"This is such a relief," the boy's mother said outside the courtroom. "It's been a long, long time."

Ryan, who served in parishes in Brooklyn and Queens in the 1970s and 1980s, was suspended from priestly duties in 1995, following accusations that he engaged in inappropriate sexual activities while working as an Air Force chaplain in Mobile, Ala.

Staff writer Alfonso A. Castillo contributed to this story.


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