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Former Tarpon Springs Priest Sentenced To 12 Years For Abuse

May 5, 2004 | AP

A former Catholic priest was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday for abusing two 11-year-old boys in the late 1970s.

Gerard Russell Appleby, 69, also was ordered to serve 20 years of sexual offender probation after prison. As part of a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to two reduced charges of attempted capital sexual battery.

Two 34-year-old men filed reports in May 2002 accusing Appleby of sexually abusing them in 1978. At the time of the incidents, Appleby was a priest at St. Ignatious of Antioch Catholic Church in Tarpon Springs, serving as a visiting pastor in charge of the youth ministry.

Appleby faced one of the victims, now 36, in court Wednesday and apologized for his deeds, blaming his behavior on alcoholism.

"I ask God every day, all day and all night to forgive me," Appleby said. "He has forgiven me. Now I have to pay the consequences. I realize that."

Appleby was arrested last year in San Marcos, Texas, where he had lived since the early 1990s.

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