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Prosecutor might quiz nun during priest's trial

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A Toledo nun who has accused a former priest of abusing her when she was a girl may appear as a witness in a homicide trial involving another priest, the Rev. Gerald Robinson.

Father Robinson, 67, is accused of killing a nun, Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, in the chapel at Mercy Hospital near downtown in 1980. The case went unsolved until last year when investigators said they took a new look at evidence and arrested Father Robinson.

He has been charged with aggravated murder in the case, which has attracted international attention. Twice, the trial has been delayed and is now scheduled for April 17, nearly two years after his arrest.

In court documents, prosecutors say they may call Sister Ann-Marie Borgess, a Notre Dame nun, to challenge any defense evidence about Father Gerald Robinson's "good character."

Dean Mandros, head of the criminal division of the Lucas County prosecutor's office, would not say why Sister Ann-Marie was named as a possible witness nor describe her connection to Father Robinson.

Sister Ann-Marie spoke in support of victims of priest abuse before dozens of supporters in Columbus yesterday during a "Speak Out" organized by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

She did not return calls seek-ing comment on the Father Robinson case.

She has accused a former priest, Chet Warren, of sexually assaulting her when she was a young girl at St. Pius X Church in West Toledo. He was never charged, but was removed from the ministry after several women accused him of abuse.

The event yesterday in Columbus was as a precursor to a Ohio House judiciary committee hearing today on a proposed bill that would extend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases. Sister Ann-Marie's stand puts her at odds with the Diocese of Toledo, which opposes portions of the bill.

The motions filed last month in the Robinson murder trial are meant to keep the trial on track for an April 17 start. The documents put the defense team on notice about who may appear as witnesses for the prosecutions, Mr. Mandros said.

"If they raise objections at the last minute, it could be another delay," Mr. Mandros said.

He declined further comment, citing a gag order by Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas Osowik, who is scheduled to hear the murder case.

Alan Konop and John Thebes, Father Robinson's defense attorneys, declined comment, citing the same gag order.

Contact Robin Erb at:

robinerb@theblade.com

or 419-724-6133.

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