Priest Gets Probation for Paying Teen Boy for Sex
By Scott Hiaasen
June 27, 2003
The Rev. Daniel McBride, the only priest indicted in a sweeping grand-jury investigation of sex-abuse complaints in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, was sentenced yesterday to three years' probation for having sex with a teen prostitute last year.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Ann Mannen said prison was not necessary for the 76-year-old McBride, a priest for more than 50 years before he was indicted in December after Prosecutor Bill Mason's seven-month investigation of the church. McBride pleaded guilty last month to promoting prostitution, a third-degree felony.
Mannen called the crime heinous, saying that McBride, as a priest, should have helped the wayward boy instead of exploiting him.
The judge, however, noted that McBride was never accused of abusing any parishioners. She said she would not let his status as a priest affect his punishment.
"He is not the poster child for pedophile priests," Mannen said.
Mannen also scolded the Catholic Church for failing to publicly defend the priest, who was suspended last year. "They've quickly run in the other direction for cover," she said.
Yesterday the diocese issued a statement saying McBride's case was "a personal matter and was never connected with the exercise of his priestly ministry."
McBride did have his defenders in the courtroom - about 30 friends, relatives and parishioners from St. Barnabas in Summit County's Northfield Center Township, where McBride was a senior associate pastor. McBride's lawyers, Niki Schwartz and Brian Downey, also presented Mannen with more than 50 letters supporting the priest.
Mannen could have given McBride up to five years in prison, and prosecutors asked the judge not to go lightly on him. They said his actions have taken an emotional toll on the 17-year-old, whom McBride took to New York and paid for sex with $120 and a compact disc.
McBride met the boy last April at Marshall McCarron's Tavern, an Ohio City bar now condemned as a brothel. At the time, sheriff's deputies had the bar staked out after hearing complaints about prostitution there.
"I wonder if we do not have a wolf in sheep's clothing," Assistant County Prosecutor John Mitchell said.
As part of his probation, McBride must complete a sex-offender counseling program and perform 200 hours of community service counseling other sex offenders, the judge said. McBride also must register as a sex offender with the sheriff's office.
McBride apologized for his conduct and said he was a "terrible example" to the teen.
He also regretted having "cast more shadow on the church."
Last year, a grand jury investigated 145 current and former priests in the Cleveland area and heard complaints from more than 1,000 people who said they were abused as children by priests.
But prosecutors said they couldn't pursue criminal charges in most cases because the complaints were too old.
The diocese still faces more than a dozen lawsuits over sex-abuse claims.
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