Former Georgetown Prep Priest Gets Probation, Must Register As Sex Offender

By Danielle E. Gaines
The Gazette
November 10, 2011

A former priest at Georgetown Preparatory School could spend the rest of his life on a sex offender registry, but no time behind bars.

Garrett David Orr, 58, of Pittsburgh was sentenced to five years of supervised probation Thursday for molesting two students who lived in the dormitory on the North Bethesda school's campus in 1989 and 2001.

One of the students, identified by prosecutors as Victim No. 1, contacted police in June 2010 to say he was molested by Orr in 1989. Another former student, who testified in court Thursday, went to police in 2004 to say he was sexually abused in 2001. The 1989 case was reopened when police started to investigate the more recent claim.

Orr pleaded guilty in September to two counts of fourth-degree sex offense, defined as a crime in which a person of authority engages in a sexual act with a child. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

“This is not an appropriate punishment,” Montgomery County prosecutor Donna Fenton said before the sentencing. “When someone does something like this to a child, it is not an appropriate punishment for them not to serve any time behind bars. It’s just not appropriate, but it’s the reality of prosecuting these cases and in evaluating a case.”

She extended the plea deal to Orr because “the biggest thing they (one of the victim’s family) wanted to see was an admission of the acts that he did. An admission of the offenses that Mr. Orr took against their son and against the other victim as well,” Fenton said.

Orr’s defense attorney, David A. Martella, said a trial would have been difficult on everyone and questioned the credibility of the victim from the 2002 incident.

“A trial is a difficult thing for many people,” he said. “There are people on both sides who wish this could be resolved differently.”

Martella said his client suffered financially from the abuse, losing his $68,000 a year job with the school after he was removed from the priesthood. He now makes $24,000 and has trouble finding better work because of media coverage of the case.

Orr was a Jesuit priest when he taught Latin and drama at the school between 1989 and 2003, and at one point he lived in a dormitory with other members of the faculty and about 100 students, a Georgetown Prep spokesman said after his arrest.

In Maryland, Orr would be required to register as a sex offender for 15 years; because he lives in Pennsylvania, which has harsher regulations, he may have to register for the rest of his life, Martella said.

Orr was too emotional to speak at the sentencing, Martella said, so the attorney spoke on his behalf: “This has been an ordeal for many, many people. The acts that (the victims) complain of, no one should ever be subjected to those things … He is very sorry for the emotional impact that this matter has had on these two young men.”

One of the victims, who is now in his mid-20s, addressed the judge before sentencing.

“The crimes of Garrett D. Orr have forever changed my life and the lives of my family members,” he said. “To have been a 16-year-old kid and be attacked in the way that I was by someone who had been a mentor was incredibly devastating. All relationships become second guessed and all moments of affection become suspect.”

The Gazette does not name victims of sexual abuse.

The man said he was accused by the school community of having AIDS, being a sociopath and a “life ruiner,” accusations that “had a deeply destructive effect on my life and my family more than mere words can describe.”

Victim No. 1 remained anonymous throughout the case and did not appear in court.



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