A former Roman Catholic priest was given a 20-year suspended sentence yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court for the second-degree rape and sexual child abuse of a 13-year-old girl who was a member of his West Baltimore parish.
Richard G. Deakin, a former assistant pastor at St. Martin's Church, also was given a 15-year suspended sentence for sexual child abuse and was ordered to serve five years' probation after he entered a guilty plea as part of an agreement with prosecutors in a hearing before Judge Hilary D. Caplan. The sexual child abuse sentence will run at the same time as the rape sentence.
"This is the beginning of the healing," said Judge Caplan. "He's paid a heavy price, and I agreed to take it [the negotiated plea] because the parents as well as the child agreed."
Deakin, 34, voluntarily left the priesthood in June 1988. He is now married and works as a furniture salesman in Baden, Pa. Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to two of the six crimes he was charged with when he was arrested June 25. Those crimes occurred between Jan. 1, 1986, and June 1, 1986, said Assistant State's Attorney Wanda Robinson, who dropped the other charges pending against Deakin.
The crimes did not come to light until May when the girl told her mother about her relationship with Deakin. According to court records, the girl, now 18, said at the time that "she didn't wish to live any longer because she felt that it was her fault that it had occurred." The girl is undergoing psychiatric counseling.
Deakin, formerly of the Capuchin order of priests, came to St. Martin's Church in 1984 as a deacon and became an ordained priest in April 1985. His involvement with the girl began in January 1986 and continued until the summer of 1988.
"There was basically a relationship of trust and affection," said Ms. Robinson. "He did not beat her or use any weapon."
In recommending the suspended sentence, Ms. Robinson said she considered the fact that there was no evidence Deakin forced himself upon the girl, the stress a trial would put on her, the family's wishes, and Deakin's cooperation and remorse. Deakin, who has no prior record, voluntarily returned to Maryland rather than fighting extradition, Ms. Robinson said.
"He agreed to admit his guilt in open court and apologized to the victim, which is extremely helpful to the victim," said Ms. Robinson.
An investigation found no evidence that Deakin was sexually involved with any other children in the parish.
The Rev. William Gillum, spokesman for the St. Augustine Province in Pittsburgh, which oversees Capuchin priests in four states and the District of Columbia, said Deakin's crimes were "the first time our province has ever encountered anything like this."