Priest Pleads Guilty to Corruption of Minors

United Press International
May 23, 1989

A suspended Roman Catholic priest charged with sexually molesting an altar boy in 1984 Tuesday pleaded guilty to two lesser counts of corruption of minors based on sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Richard Zula entered the pleas in Somerset County Common Pleas

Court after prosecutors and defense attorneys reached a plea bargain. The corruption of minors charges each are punishable by up to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Prosecutors agreed to drop two more serious charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and one count of attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Somerset County Judge John Cascio told Zula he accepted the plea bargain because the former altar boy victim was just weeks away from his 16th birthday at the time of the alleged incidents in 1984.

Cascio also noted the victim agreed to accept the plea arrangement and the district attorney recommended it. But Cascio warned Zula the judge still has the ultimate sentencing authority.

Cascio also ordered a pre-sentence investigation before Zula is sentenced.

Zula, 47, who now lives in North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County, still faces 138 criminal counts in Washington County stemming from alleged sexual misconduct.

Zula is one of three priests charged last fall by police in Allegheny, Somerset and Washington counties with molesting the now-20-year-old man and his 18-year-old brother.

The other priests charged are the Rev. Robert Wolk, 48, and the Rev. Francis Pucci, 58, both of whom were suspended after the youths made the allegations to Pittsburgh Diocesan officials in September 1987.

Zula is the former pastor of Sts. Mary and Ann parish in Marianna, Washington County.


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