Priest Gets Jail Term for Assault on Boy

By Jan Ackerman
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
June 23, 1995

The Rev. Richard Dorsch said he was sorry for any pain he caused a 13-year-old boy, who said the priest kissed his neck and fondled him during an excursion at North Park last summer.

"I thought we were having a good time together. Obviously, I was upsetting him, and I will always be regretful for that," Dorsch said at his sentencing yesterday for indecent assault and corruption of minors.

"My expressions of affection, I know now, were inappropriate."

Weighing the good and the bad in Dorsch's life, Common Pleas Judge Lawrence J. O'Toole came to the conclusion that the priest should have a taste of jail, but not a lengthy one.

O'Toole ordered Dorsch to report to the Allegheny County Jail Thursday to begin serving an 11 1/2- to 23-month sentence.

But O'Toole said he would parole Dorsch July 12 so he could enter a program at St. Luke Institute in Suitland, Md., a treatment facility where clergy and others seek treatment for depression, alcoholism and sexual dysfunctions.

"If you are eligible for the program, I will allow you to go. I do not know who is going to pay for it," O'Toole said.

Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey said the program at St. Luke was six or seven months long and that the Diocese of Pittsburgh would pay for it.

The Rev. Ronald Lengwin, a diocesan spokesman, said Dorsch might be admitted to St. Luke before July 12, but he didn't have an exact date.

Dorsch was co-pastor of Risen Lord parish on California Avenue, North Side, when he was arrested in August. The diocese immediately placed him on administrative leave.

In April, a jury convicted Dorsch, 50, of two counts of indecent assault and one count of corruption of minors. Jurors acquitted him on a third count of indecent assault.

At the trial, the victim said Dorsch, who was a friend of his parents', invited him to go to the park July 26 to play basketball, swim and play golf. During that outing, the boy said, the priest had indecent contact with him.

Yesterday, the victim's mother urged O'Toole to treat the priest "not like a man of the cloth, but as a man convicted of indecent assault."

She said her son was affected by the assault. "He doesn't eat or sleep. He cries a lot and spends a lot of time in his room. His classmates tease him."

She said her son was in counseling, and that the family had $ 2,000 in medical bills that hadn't been paid by medical insurance.

"A piece of me died the day my son came to me. It doesn't go away, ever," the boy's father said.

Thomassey presented letters from friends of the priest who said he was devout and kind.

Lengwin said the diocese would follow internal policies to determine Dorsch's future.


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