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Published: Tuesday, 6/6/2006

Robinson lawyer spars with fund trustee

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Thebes, center Thebes, center
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An attorney for Gerald Robinson said that a trustee handling a legal defense fund for the priest has refused to release money to pay for expert witnesses and other expenses incurred for his murder trial.

John Thebes, one of Robinson's attorneys, said yesterday that Jack Sparagowski is refusing to release money from a KeyBank account that was established to cover the priest's legal bills.

Robinson, 68, an ordained Roman Catholic priest, was convicted last month in the 1980 ritualistic murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in the chapel of the former Mercy Hospital near downtown Toledo.

Mr. Thebes said he and Alan Konop, another attorney on the defense team, attempted to contact Mr. Sparagowski at his Sylvania home about releasing money from the account to settle outstanding bills, including an invoice submitted by forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs.

Sparagowski, center. Sparagowski, center.
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"I want the money to go to pay the debts that were legitimately incurred. Why can't the money be released?" Mr. Thebes said.

However, Mr. Sparagowski said he left messages at Mr. Konop's office seeking directions on how to proceed in paying the $4,845 invoice for Ms. Reichs' services and a $3,600 bill for DNA testing of evidence.

Mr. Sparagowski said only $7,100 remains in the bank account at the Sylvania branch to pay the $8,445 invoices. He said he anticipates additional bills for $14,000 to be submitted.

"I am absolutely livid by [Mr. Thebes'] comments," he said. "I have no idea why he said that. I contacted Mr. Konop asking for some direction in how he wanted me to distribute those funds. I can't tell you how upset I am by that."

Both Mr. Thebes and Mr. Sparagowski said there is another fund for the priest's legal costs, and the combined funds would cover the current invoices.

"I don't know what the problem is. I presume that the money is there. Why can't it be released to pay the debts that have been incurred by the defense?" Mr. Thebes asked, adding that $3,000 to $4,000 was in the second defense fund.

Mr. Thebes said that other methods could be used to raise funds if more money would be needed to pay the legal costs.

In an unrelated matter, Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Ruth Ann Franks scheduled a trial yesterday for next year in a civil lawsuit involving Robinson.

In a pretrial hearing, Judge Franks scheduled a jury trial for May 21, 2007. Robinson and the Toledo Catholic Diocese are defendants in the lawsuit that was filed by a Toledo-area woman.

She alleges that she was raped and tortured in ritual abuse by Robinson and others when she was a young girl.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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