Men [of God] at work FLORIDA

27 Feb 2001


MIAMI - A prominent Roman Catholic priest was netted in a prostitution sting, the latest in a series of high profile officials arrested in an area of Miami known as a haven for streetwalkers, police said.

Fr. Patrick O'Neill, 60, a high-ranking priest in the Archdiocese of Miami and a former university president, was arrested July 5 and charged with soliciting sex after he pulled his Mercedes to a stop on a downtown street and propositioned a male undercover police officer, police said. "He offered $100 in exchange for some sexual fondling," the police spokesman said.

O'Neill was arrested for a misdemeanor but not taken into custody because he agreed to appear on his own recognizance. He served as president of Miami's St. Thomas University, a school of 2,100, for nearly a decade in the 1980s and currently heads the Archdiocese of Miami's campaign to draw lapsed Catholics back into the fold. He is also president of key local Catholic organizations including the South Florida Center for Theological Studies, the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the New Hope Charities Foundation. Reuters 7/12/2000


TAMPA - The search of an unpaid storage locker turned up pictures of young naked boys and led police to a church youth counselor who now faces child sex charges.

Marvin C. Thompson, 52, was being held without bond on 8 counts of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious conduct with children after his arrest in connection with sexual acts on two boys, ages 5 and 8.

Thompson had worked as a volunteer counselor for the Royal Rangers, a youth group affiliated with Temple Terrace Faith Assembly and had worked with at least one other Tampa church youth group, according to investigators.

The alleged victims, however, were not members of the church groups, they said. Police said Thompson had not paid his rental fee on a storage locker and when the owner opened it, he found hundreds of pictures of naked boys. The owner called police.

Detectives said they are searching for other possible victims and that after his arrest, Thompson told officers of sex acts with children dating back to the 1960s.

AP 6/7/2000


CLEARWATER - A former pastor has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading no contest to charges he molested two young girls.

Rev. Charles Robinson, 63, former pastor of an AME Church in St. Petersburg, pleaded no contest to 5 felony charges of sexual contact with parishioners, ages 13 and 15, in 1998 and 1999.

Investigators said while sexual relations were consensual with the older girl, the younger teen told police he forced her. Under Florida law, it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor even if the contact is consensual.

In an agreement with prosecutors, Robinson pleaded guilty to 4 counts of handling and fondling a child under 16 and one of performing a lewd and lascivious act.

Robinson faced a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison if convicted at trial. The prosecutor said the minister was offered the plea agreement because the victims' families wanted to avoid the trauma of trial.

AP 6/7/2000


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