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Daylesford Priest Faces Trial For Sex Abuse

Jan 23, 2003 | Ardmore Main Line Life

A local priest was held over for court in West Chester on charges of indecent assault after one of his reported victims tearfully broke down during cross examination at the preliminary hearing.

A break had to be taken during questioning by defense attorney Samuel C. Stretton as the man expressed that he was very embarrassed to talk about what happened to him in late November in the pool area of the Upper Main Line YMCA.

The Rev. David Lawlor, 59, of Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, is accused of fondling a mentally challenged man and attempting to do the same to another in a whirlpool at the YMCA. Both men testified on behalf of Chief Deputy District Attorney Rob Miller in District Court in Devon.

Easttown Police began investigating the allegations on Nov. 26, when they first received a report that the man had been assaulted while at the YMCA on Berwyn-Paoli Road earlier in the week.

According to police, the victim said that Lawlor entered the whirlpool, started to rub his knee and then removed his underwear and fondled him. When he left the whirlpool to go to the shower, Lawlor reportedly followed him and asked him if he was OK, reports said.

Easttown Police Officer David Obzud also testified on behalf of the prosecution. He said that in an interview with police, Lawlor had originally denied going into the whirlpool that day, then changed his statement and said he was in the whirlpool alone. He then changed his statement again, saying he was with the man but that no contact was made, before finally admitting that he rubbed the victim's knee.

However, according to police, Lawlor acknowledged that what happened was inappropriate and compulsive behavior.

He said he is in counseling for sex addiction and has been for the past 24 years, police said.

Lawlor was held over on charges of attempted indecent assault as well as for another incident that reportedly happened that same day involving another man in the whirlpool.

His bail was continued at $5,000 unsecured by District Justice John Anthony.

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