Priest Charged with Sexual Impropriety Negotiating Plea Agreement

Associated Press State & Local Wire
June 27, 2002

A Catholic priest is negotiating plea agreements in the two counties where he is charged with taking indecent liberties with a child, his attorney said Wednesday.

The Rev. Dennis Schmitz, 41, of Marysville, made his first appearance Wednesday in Douglas County District Court, and a preliminary hearing was set for July 17. He also faces charges in Nemaha County.

Schmitz's attorney, Steve Mirakian of Kansas City, Mo., told The Lawrence Journal World that he hoped to have a plea bargain worked out before the July 17 hearing. But he declined to discuss details of the negotiations.

"Everyone is simply investigating, and we'll see if we can reach agreement," Mirakian said.

Brad Burke, an assistant district attorney, said Schmitz is charged with lewd fondling and touching of a child between the ages of 14 and 16. The incidents allegedly happened between June 1998 and May 1999.

Schmitz is accused in Nemaha County of fondling a 15-year-old boy between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1, 1999, at the S&S Ranch, of which he is a co-owner.

Authorities have said in the past that the cases involve the same alleged victim.

Schmitz, ordained in 1989, become vocations director for the archdiocese in 1994 and served until last July, when he became pastor of St. Gregory's in Marysville and St. Malachy's in Beattie.

While vocations director, Schmitz lived in Lawrence. He was in charge of recruiting seminary students.

Schmitz also founded The Runnin' Revs, a basketball team consisting of archdiocesan priests that plays games against area youth teams.

Schmitz made no comments either during court or afterward to reporters.

He is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Monday in Nemaha County.

Schmitz is free on $15,000 bond on the Douglas County charge. He is free on $50,000 bond in Nemaha County.


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