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Ex-Priest In Fremont Close To Deal

Nov 21, 2002 | Mercury News

A former Fremont priest accused of molesting a boy in the 1970s is expected to accept a plea agreement at his next court date, but his attorney said Wednesday that his client wants an assurance that no new charges will be filed.

Deputy District Attorney Kevin Murphy had said police were investigating as many as four other cases against Robert Freitas, 57, all dating back at least 20 years.

Freitas is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 6. If a plea agreement is reached, Freitas would join the approximately 300 priests who have been removed from U.S. ministries this year for sexually abusing children. He would be the first priest in the Oakland Diocese convicted of abuse this year.

The terms of the deal offered by the Alameda County district attorney were not disclosed. Freitas, who received therapy in the past for abusing other young boys, appeared in court Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing.

``When any resolution occurs, we want to have this entire matter put to bed, including anything outstanding based on very stale claims made to the diocese,'' said Freitas' attorney, William Gagen.

Freitas was arrested April 8 after a monthlong police investigation into allegations he molested Mark Bogdanowicz, then 15, while Freitas was a priest at Santa Paula Church. Outside the courtroom Wednesday, a tearful Bogdanowicz said he wants Freitas to serve jail time.

``I just want closure,'' Bogdanowicz said. ``But I guess I'll have to wait like everyone else.''

Bogdanowicz came forward when he learned that Freitas was ministering at the Sisters of the Holy Family Motherhouse in Fremont, where his mother volunteers. He has filed a civil lawsuit against the Oakland Diocese for allowing Freitas to remain in the ministry in the 1970s, even after it was known that he was a pedophile.

Through the diocese, Freitas received intensive therapy for sexual improprieties with two young boys between 1979 and 1983. One of those cases was settled out of court for $50,000, according to the diocese. The other victim decided not to pursue legal action. No criminal charges were filed.

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