|Charge Against Plesetz
A woman in Irvine says she, too, had a child by
the former Catholic priest assigned to a Dana Point church.
By Carol McGraw
The Orange County Register
A second woman surfaced Thursday to accuse former Catholic priest
Gerald John Plesetz of fathering another child at a time he was
supposed to be offering spiritual counseling.
Plesetz, 59, out on bail and awaiting arraignment Oct. 25, was
arrested this week on charges of having a sexual relationship with
a 14-year-old girl who had a child in 1974. He admitted to sheriff's
investigators that the child was his, court records say.
Plesetz, who lives in Orange and works for Orange County Health
Care Agency, said Thursday that his relationship with the girl,
now a woman identified in court papers as "Janet M," was
"a foolish mistake."
"It was a stupid thing. It was a terrible thing."
He declined further comment on the charges, saying he didn't want
to sound "whiny" and that he was in the process of hiring
The second woman, who lives in Irvine, said she came forward to
support Janet M. To protect other family members, she said, she
did not want her name revealed.
"It took extraordinary courage for Janet M to speak out,"
she said. "And I would like to dispel the notion that this
conduct on the part of Father Jerry was an isolated event."
The Irvine woman said that, around 1976, when she was 22 years
old, she returned to St. Edward Church in Dana Point after a divorce
that had separated her from her Catholic faith. She was referred
to Plesetz for counseling.
"I longed to once again be a member of the Catholic Church
community, to be right with God, to be able to receive Communion.
Father Jerry gave his assurance he would help me."
But eventually he made sexual advances toward her, she said.
"It was very confusing. He took advantage of his position
of power and my vulnerability. I felt he was the one who held the
power to my reconciliation with the church."
She said that when she became pregnant he first denied the child
was his, but then said she could count on him.
Three months later she found out that he had left the priesthood
and married a woman who attended St. Cecilia's Church in Tustin,
where he had also served. That woman is now deceased.
The Irvine woman called her daughter "an incredible gift from
God, and I am unquestionably thankful for her. However, the circumstances
under which she was born were devastating."
Plesetz most recently served as a priest at St. Matthew Church
in Orange. Married priests can serve in that church, which is affiliated
with the Old Catholic movement.
Bishop Peter Hickman said he let the priest go this summer after
the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told him of Janet M's allegations.
Hickman said Plesetz told him that those allegations were true and
said it was a "foolish thing" that happened after he was
newly ordained. "He said he always regretted it," Hickman
Contact McGraw at (714) 796-4945 or firstname.lastname@example.org