Priest's Hearing Will Resume
Alleged Sexual Assaults in '80s

By Gary V. Murray
Telegram & Gazette
March 4, 2008

WORCESTER— A competency hearing is scheduled to resume April 11 for a retired priest accused of sexually assaulting two altar boys more than 20 years ago.

The Rev. John Szantyr, 76, of Waterbury, Conn., is charged in Central District Court with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child. The sexual assaults allegedly occurred in the 1980s, when Rev. Szantyr was assigned to Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish on Ward Street. The charges against him were lodged in 2003.

In September 2006, Rev. Szantyr, who is suffering from Parkinson's disease, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial based on a psychiatric evaluation done at that time by Dr. John Murphy, a neurologist.

A second evaluation was done last August at the request of Assistant District Attorney Joseph J. Reilly III, who has been assigned to prosecute the case. The prosecutor said he requested the evaluation after receiving information that Rev. Szantyr had been leading prayer groups and had applied for his driver's license and was not essentially homebound, as he said Dr. Murphy had suggested.

A competency hearing based on the most recent evaluation got under way last week before Judge David Ricciardone. Dr. Malcolm P. Rogers, the Chestnut Hill psychiatrist hired by the district attorney's office to evaluate Rev. Szantyr last summer, testified Thursday that he found the suspect competent to stand trial.

Arguing that Dr. Rogers did not apply the proper standard for competency and that the evaluation was dated, Rev. Szantyr's lawyer, Edward P. Ryan Jr., asked Judge Ricciardone at the conclusion of the psychiatrist's testimony to find his client incompetent.

Judge Ricciardone denied that request yesterday and scheduled the resumption of the competency hearing for April 11. Mr. Ryan said he would review Judge Ricciardone's ruling and advise the court in advance if he did not plan to call any witnesses.



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