Priest Strikes Deal in Sex Solicitation Case

By Debra Glidden
Daily Item
April 5, 2005

SWAMPSCOTT - Charges against a local priest who allegedly asked a 12-year-old girl and her mother to perform sexual acts for a fee, were continued without a finding during a hearing in Chelsea District Court Monday.

The Rev. Jerome Gillespie, 55, faced charges of child enticement, soliciting sex for a fee and annoying an accosting a person of the opposite sex, stemming from an incident last January at Floramos Lounge in Chelsea.

Authorities say Gillespie was not dressed as a priest at the time of the incident and that Gillespie allegedly propositioned the mother and daughter, but had no physical contact with them.

Almost immediately after the allegations were made public, Gillespie resigned as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Swampscott.

Suffolk District Attorney's Office Spokesman David Procopio said Gillespie pleaded guilty Monday to sufficient facts, and the charges were continued without finding for two years.

Gillespie was ordered to undergo psychiatric, substance abuse and sex offender evaluations, and depending on those evaluations may be ordered to undergo treatment.

Gillespie was also ordered to have no contact with children under 18 without disclosing to their parent or guardian the nature of the case against him.

"This holds him responsible for his actions," Procopio said. "The victims were in agreement with the disposition."

Calls to Gillespie's attorney, Timothy O'Neill, were not immediately returned on Monday, but in an earlier interview O'Neill said the charges against his client were "grossly over inflated."

O'Neill said Gillespie had been drinking the night of the incident and that he made some inappropriate comments. He maintained that Chelsea police should not have charged Gillespie with a felony.

"This was an isolated act in an otherwise exemplary life that was clearly inspired by having too much to drink," O'Neill said in mid-February.

Gillespie, who has been a priest for more than 20 years, has served at several other North Shore parishes, including Our Lady of the Assumption in Lynnfield.

In 1994 he was transferred from Our Lady of the Assumption to Lynn, where he was the pastor of Sacred Heart for seven years. He was transferred to St. Monica's Parish in Methuen in 2001 and reassigned to St. John the Evangelist Church last September.


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