Ex-Pastor Gets Trial Date

By Gary V. Murray
Telegram & Gazette
February 8, 2012

WORCESTER A May 1 trial date has been set in Central District Court for a former church pastor accused of indecently assaulting and beating a woman.

The Very Rev. Charles M. Abdelahad, the former longtime pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral on Anna Street, has pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent assault and battery, five counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and four counts of assault and battery. The indecent assault and battery charge was reduced from a charge of rape last year at the request of prosecutors.

Rev. Abdelahad, of 14 Bryant Ave., Shrewsbury, is accused of biting and kicking the alleged victim, pulling her hair, shoving her head against a floor, hitting her in the face and head with his fists, striking her with a religious icon and wooden replica bat and scratching her with a set of keys.

All of the alleged crimes were said to have occurred at the church complex at 30 Anna St., off Lake Avenue. The physical assaults are alleged to have taken place on or about July 14, 2007, and on other dates; the sexual assault allegedly occurred on or about Sept. 1, 2009.

Rev. Abdelahad was arraigned Feb. 4, 2011, and his case had been pending since that time.

The May 1 trial date was set yesterday by Judge Andrew M. D'Angelo at the request of Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Riddle and Rev. Abdelahad's lawyer, James G. Reardon Jr.

Mr. Reardon told the judge that his client was opting for a jury-waived or bench trial, which would be presided over by Judge D'Angelo because he has been specially assigned to the case. Under questioning by the judge, Rev. Abdelahad waived his right to a jury trial in open court.

The judge scheduled a March 23 final pretrial hearing in the case.

Rev. Abdelahad is free on personal recognizance and has been ordered by the court as a condition of his release to have no contact with the alleged victim. Mr. Reardon has said in the past that there was "a very significant other side to this story" that would come out in court and that he expected his client to ultimately be exonerated.

The lawyer said Rev. Abdelahad had taken a voluntary leave of absence as pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral.



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