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Published: Thursday, 5/15/2008

Priest's bond set at $500

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The Rev. Frank Murd, center, is escorted into Lucas County Common Pleas Court by a sheriff's deputy and followed by his attorney, Tom Matuszak. Father Murd pleaded not guilty to sexual imposition in connection with an alleged incident with a man, 27, in a hot tub at the YMCA/JCC in Sylvania. The Rev. Frank Murd, center, is escorted into Lucas County Common Pleas Court by a sheriff's deputy and followed by his attorney, Tom Matuszak. Father Murd pleaded not guilty to sexual imposition in connection with an alleged incident with a man, 27, in a hot tub at the YMCA/JCC in Sylvania.
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A Roman Catholic priest accused of having improper sexual contact with an adult in a hot tub was arraigned yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on a misdemeanor sex charge.

The Rev. Frank Murd pleaded not guilty to sexual imposition, a charge that stems from an accusation made in March by a 27-year-old man.

Judge James Jensen set bond for the priest at $500 and scheduled a trial for June 24. A deadline of June 20 was given to the defendant to change his plea before going to trial.

Conviction on a sexual imposition charge, a third-degree misdemeanor, carries a punishment of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Father Murd, who turns 66 today, was booked into the county jail and later released.

An ordained priest since 1976, Father Murd resigned as pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Maumee about a month after the victim reported to Sylvania Township police that he was touched inappropriately in a hot tub at the YMCA/JCC in Sylvania.

The resignation of the priest was revealed to parishioners in a letter April 10 from Bishop Leonard Blair.

They were told that he was entering into treatment at an undisclosed residential facility for "appropriate spiritual remedies" and "professional evaluation and counseling."

Father Murd's personal attorney, Tom Matuszak, has filed a motion with the court asking prosecutors to provide information and investigative records in the case.

A county grand jury indicted the priest April 30 after hearing evidence presented by prosecutors. The panel also was asked to consider the more serious felony charge of gross sexual imposition, but voted against issuing an indictment.

Claudia Vercellotti, co-coordinator of the local chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, yesterday urged individuals in the community who may have observed, "suspected, or suffered" inappropriate actions involving the priest to contact authorities.

She also called on Bishop Blair to make efforts to "aggressively reach out to anyone with information" involving Father Murd.

"Approaching strangers in a public place for sex is often compulsive behavior," she said.



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