Priest pleads guilty to misdemeanor - Catholic Courier

Priest pleads guilty to misdemeanor

Father Dennis R. Sewar pleaded guilty in Rochester City Court July 31 to one count of attempted endangering the welfare of a child, a Class B misdemeanor.

The priest previously had pleaded not guilty to a charge of third-degree sexual abuse, also a Class B misdemeanor, in connection with an allegation of one incident of sexual abuse in October 1999, while Father Sewar was pastor of Rochester’s Church of the Annunciation.

Rochester City Court Judge John E. Elliott sentenced the priest to one year’s probation, according to Joseph Waldorf, assistant Monroe County district attorney. The judge said Father Sewar could face up to 90 days in jail if he violates his probation, and ordered him to pay $160 in court costs, Waldorf noted.

Because the charge to which Father Sewar pleaded guilty is a non-sexual charge, Waldorf said, he will not have to register as a sex offender. Waldorf added that the accuser in the case accepted the priest’s decision to plead guilty to the non-sexual charge.

“It was a decision that we didn’t come to lightly,” Waldorf said. “It was really an opportunity for (the accuser) to move on with his life and provide some closure.”

Father Sewar has been on leave since June 2005 and remains so, said Doug Mandelaro, spokesman for the Diocese of Rochester. Mandelaro said Aug. 3 that the diocese had not yet had a chance to review court papers and would not offer any comment before press time Aug. 4.

John F. Speranza, Father Sewar’s attorney, did not respond to requests for comment.

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