Without accuser, rape case against ex-priest is closed

March 13, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A former nun will not participate in the prosecution of a former Catholic priest whom she had accused of raping her in 1989 at St. Ambrose Church, the city state's attorney's office said yesterday.

Margaret T. Burns, spokeswoman for the office, said prosecutors received a letter last month from Rita D. Monahan indicating that after additional thought she did not wish to testify in a potential case against the Rev. Thomas R. Schwind, now a Pentecostal pastor in East Baltimore.

"Based on correspondence from the victim that outlines her desire not to testify, the state will be unable to proceed, and the matter will be officially closed," Burns said. City police had opened an investigation.

In May, Monahan went public with allegations that she was raped by Schwind on the night of Feb. 12, 1989.

The allegation was aired in one of 25 news conferences across the United States and Canada organized by the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, a victims' advocacy group often at odds with church leaders.

Monahan had met Schwind in 1988, when he became her confessor and spiritual adviser, and she began volunteering at his parish. During the time that she said she was raped, she was temporarily living at the rectory while recovering from an illness.

Monahan said she and Schwind returned to an empty rectory from dinner after a long day of working at the parish. Schwind invited Monahan upstairs to his room to pray. Near the conclusion of the prayer, she said, Schwind put on a recording of Christian music and told her to close her eyes. Then she was thrown on the floor and attacked, she had said.

Schwind, since married and pastor of New Covenant Tabernacle in East Baltimore, has denied wrongdoing.

Schwind hired attorney and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to represent him. Schmoke could not be reached for comment last night.

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