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Va. Priest Stripped Of Ministry

Sep 25, 2002 | AP

A Virginia priest was stripped of his ministry Tuesday after a monthlong investigation unearthed decades-old incidents of sexual misconduct with minors, diocese officials said.

The Rev. Eugene Teslovic, a pastor at St. Luke's in Virginia Beach, has been removed from all priestly duties, said the Rev. Pasquale Apuzzo, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

Bishop Walter F. Sullivan began investigating Teslovic after the priest informed the diocese that someone had recently approached him about a past sexual impropriety. The incident took place in 1977 and allegedly involved a parishioner in his 20s, Apuzzo said.

Sullivan subsequently determined that Teslovic had been involved in several incidents of sexual misconduct with minors during the late 1970s and mid 1980s.

Apuzzo said none of the victims have come forward, and none were interviewed by the diocese. He said no information has been forwarded to prosecutors.

Apuzzo declined to say what prompted the bishop to remove Teslovic or say how many minors might be involved. Telephone messages left at St. Luke's were not returned.

Apuzzo said the diocese apparently was aware of rumors involving Teslovic and investigated him about 10 years ago, but did not learn anything that warranted removing him at the time.

Also Tuesday, a former Roman Catholic priest was arrested in California on accusations that he molested a girl who allegedly gave birth to his child more than 30 years ago.

Gerald Plesetz, 59, of Orange, Calif., was charged under a statute of limitations provision that gives authorities the right to investigate and file charges up to one year after a victim is identified. The woman came forward several months ago, officials said.

Plesetz was arrested after an undercover deputy, posing as the woman's daughter, confronted the former priest.

Although authorities identified Plesetz as a former priest, it was not immediately clear where and under what circumstances he left the priesthood. A telephone call to the Diocese of Orange was not returned.

Police said the woman went to police several months ago after hearing of other priest abuse cases. On July 2, an undercover officer, posing as the woman's daughter, called Plesetz.

"The defendant responded, 'You're kidding me,'" the complaint said.

Plesetz agreed to meet the woman and allegedly confessed his sexual relationship and arranging the adoption, the complaint said.


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