Fla. Ex-Priest Gets 30 Years for Abuse
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) _ A former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing boys received a 30-year prison sentence Friday after pleading guilty to lesser charges.
The guilty pleas to two counts of attempted capital sexual battery allowed Robert Schaeufele, 55, to avoid a possible life sentence.
He was awaiting trial on three counts of capital sexual battery. A conviction on any one count would have carried a mandatory life sentence.
The guilty pleas related to accusations Schaeufele gave enemas to two boys who were parishioners at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pinellas Park in the mid-1980s.
Twenty-two people have claimed to have been abused by Schaeufele, who was a priest at a number of churches in the Tampa Bay area starting in 1975. The statute of limitations prevents charges from being filed in most of those cases.
The Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg said Schaeufele resigned from his post at a Pasco County church after being confronted when the first complaint was received last year.
``We hope the conclusion of these criminal charges will help bring healing and closure to those who have been abused,″ the diocese said in a statement Friday.
Prosecutor Tim Hessinger said Schaeufele probably will serve more than half the sentence.
Another count of capital sexual battery involving a boy who attended a Dade City church when Schaeufele was a priest there is scheduled to be resolved with an identical plea deal later, Hessinger said.
Schaeufele’s attorney, Debora Moss, said the ex-priest decided to take the plea deal rather than risk a life sentence, even though jurors acquitted him last month of two counts of sexually abusing a Bradenton youth.
Jeff Rozanowski, the alleged victim in the Dade City case, told The Tampa Tribune he is ``more than pleased″ with the deal. He said he wanted Schaeufele to serve significant prison time, but not a life sentence.
``Granted, what he did to me was horrible, but he is still human,″ Rozanowski said. ``I don’t have hate for him. I just want to see him do time.″