Priest Pleads No Contest in Assault

By Leo Fitzmaurice
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 30, 1992

A Roman Catholic priest said Friday that the state has enough evidence to findhim guilty of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old altar boy after church services in House Springs two years ago. The priest, the Rev. Donald H. Heck, 56, pleaded no contest before Judge Dennis J. Kehm in Jefferson County Circuit Court in Hillsboro. Heck was pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in House Springs in October 1990, when prosecutors say the assault occurred. By pleading no contest Heck does not admit guilt, but he concedes that the state has enough evidence to convict him. Kehm set sentencing for July 31. The charge of first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney George McElroy said in an interview he was "a little disappointed" that Heck pleaded no contest and did not admit guilt. But "everybody is happy we got the matter behind us without the trauma of a trial," McElroy said. Heck was removed as pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace a few days after the incident with the altar boy. He was later reassigned as assistant pastor of St. Andrew Church in Lemay. Heck was arrested in December 1991.


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