Woman's Family Pushes for More Investigation into Sanibel Priest

By Levi Ismail
December 10, 2016

The Lee County Sheriff's Office is dropping their investigation into Father Christoper Senk after the State Attorney's Office announced they would not be pursuing charges.

The two-year long investigation was halted when the sheriff's office attempted to get an arrest warrant for Senk to charge him with exploiting parishioner Marion McIntyre.

The SAO determined that there was not enough evidence of intimidation or deception on Senk's part.

NBC2 spoke with McIntyre's niece, who said Senk crossed the line and accepted lavish gifts from her aunt.

In the lengthy report by LCSO, they explain how the investigation began after a $30,000 gold and diamond ring belonging to McIntyre went missing from her hospital room. McIntyre's family said the last person to be in the room with her was Senk. The ring would turn up later in a drawer as McIntyre was being moved, but it forced family to look into the relationship between Senk and Marion. They discovered in that time that Senk had been on the receiving end of thousands of dollars from McIntyre. Family members said McIntyre mysteriously withdrew $5,000 on one occasion and $3,500 on another occasion as gifts to the church. Other times McIntyre would write checks for the church, but would write the checks to Senk.

Before McIntyre's husband died, friends said she took a trip through Europe with Senk and his family. McIntyre reportedly fronted the bill and paid for everyone's trip.

Investigators questioned care nurses at Shell Point Retirement Community where McIntyre was living. There they discovered Senk would make visits, but would not sign in. After the questions, one nurse slipped a note to the investigators saying they saw Senk kiss McIntyre on the lips as he would leave.

"I was told by a trust officer at the bank that my aunt was giving him a lot of money," said Lindsay Gallagher, who went on say she asked Senk to "please not accept any more gifts, services or cash."

She said he did anyway.

Senk's attorney argues his client didn't make McIntyre give him gifts.

"He never asked for anything, either for the church, the parish, or himself," said Douglas Molloy.

Gallagher said that's beside the point, adding Senk should have known better.

"There is a higher standard for a person of trust, especially a Catholic priest," Gallagher said.

According to the SAO, under any other circumstances, they feel this would have been a provable case of exploitation.

However, it was agreed that when dealing with a priest, there is a different evaluation that must take place.

"It is neither unusual nor criminal for individuals to give large sums of money to religious figures," said Assistant State Attorney Micheal Brown.

St. Isabel's parishioner Genetha Gray said Senk would never take advantage of McIntyre, who she said followed the verse inscribed on the bench out St. Isabel's: "God loves a cheerful giver."

"Whatever she found that she thought might make people happy, she intended to do and she did," Gray said.

Jim Salzman, another parishioner at St. Isabel's, said it's not uncommon for members of the church, including himself, to give gifts to


The SAO concludes in their findings that Senk took advantage of his position of trust, but that simply isn't enough to establish exploitation.

McIntyre's family said that despite the investigation's ending, they maintain that Senk did exploit McIntyre who's mental capacity has been declining for the past few years. In interviews with investigators, Senk acknowledges that he knew McIntyre was having memory issues. When speaking with Salzman, he said it was never obvious that McIntyre was losing her memory, let alone in the beginning stages of dementia. McIntyre's former caretaker told investigators McIntyre would give Senk gifts and not remember doing it.

The Diocese of Venice is in the process of determining if Senk is fit to go back to St. Isabel's church following the accusations. Senk remains on administrative leave.








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.