Priest May Be Put in Program
A Priest from Port St. Lucie Is Accused of Masturbating in Front of Another Man in a White City Park
By Eric Alan Barton
Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News [Stuart FL]
January 23, 1998
St. Lucie County — A local priest accused of masturbating in front of another man in a White City park might enter a state program that could clear the charge from his record, his attorney said Thursday.
Peter Duvelsdorf, 67, of Port St. Lucie is scheduled to stand trial Monday on a misdemeanor charge of exposing himself in public. He could face up to a year in jail if convicted.
But his attorney, Jeff Garland, of Fort Pierce, said Duvelsdorf is a "perfect case" for a pretrial intervention program that probably would order him to undergo counseling.
"I would hope that someone with no prior history or criminal record and a history of doing so much good could get the same chances as anyone else in the same position," Garland said.
Duvelsdorf declined to comment Thursday and referred questions to Garland.
Assistant State Attorney Steve Levin said he would not discuss whether Duvelsdorf will be admitted into the program until he talks with "all interested parties involved in the case."
The pretrial intervention program typically is offered to those charged with a crime for the first time and when the victim is not a child or someone who experienced physical or mental damage.
On Nov. 13, a man said Duvelsdorf circled his truck, which had broken down in the park, several times in his 1997 Buick Century before stopping to ask whether he needed help. As the man walked over to Duvelsdorf's car, he allegedly saw Duvelsdorf masturbating.
The man said when a tow truck arrived, he used the driver's cellular phone to call 911.
Deputies said Duvelsdorf admitted he was masturbating.
Duvelsdorf was one of two priests at St. Paul of the Cross Church in North Palm Beach before the incident and often officiated at funerals on the Treasure Coast. He is on a "ministerial leave of absence" until the case is resolved, said the Rev. Michael Edwards, chancellor for the Diocese of Palm Beach.
St. Lucie County sheriff's deputies often conduct undercover sting operations in White City Park, because they receive complaints about sexual activity there, frequently between gay men.
A Greek Orthodox priest was arrested at the park in June 1993 and charged with exposure of sexual organs after allegedly soliciting an undercover deputy for sex. In that case, Daniel Sfikas of Port St. Lucie drove to a secluded area off 25th Street to meet the deputy, then allegedly masturbated. He was a priest at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Pierce.
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