A Roman Catholic priest has been arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge after he was accused of groping a woman in home hospice care while giving her last rites. The Rev. Gerold Langsch, of Austin, was arrested Thursday and charged with assault by contact stemming from the Oct. 5 encounter.
The 75-year-old priest is free on $15,000 bond. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a year in jail and fined up to $4,000.
Police contend in the arrest affidavit that the woman was in hospice care for complications from diabetes when Lansch went to her home to administer the sacrament of anointing the sick, a sacrament of absolution. The woman, who is still alive, reported that Langsch first anointed her chest with holy water, then began to apply lotion, massaging a breast, pinching a nipple and asking “Does that feel good?” He then tried to slip his hand inside her diaper but was unable to.
The woman later told police the priest’s actions left her in shock, uncomfortable, confused and feeling like, she told police, a “nasty, dirty piece of meat.”
Police were contacted five days after the incident but an arrest wasn’t make until early March, CBS affiliate KEYE-TV reports. Police say the investigation was delayed due to complications with the woman’s health. This month she was able to identify the priest in a lineup helping officers make an arrest, the station reported.
In a statement Wednesday, the Catholic Diocese of Austin said Langsch had been pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church in Austin until last month, when the diocese “received an unrelated report that he had failed to maintain proper boundaries with an adult.” The statement said that report did not involve any physical contact. Nevertheless, the diocese removed Langsch from his post and deemed him no longer able to serve as a priest in the diocese.
The diocese said it will cooperate fully with police and asks anyone with information about the priest’s actions to notify police.
KEYE-TV reports that Austin police say they do not know if there are other victims. “We would greatly encourage any victims in the Austin area to call 911 or 311 and file a report if they have been a victim with this suspect or any other suspect,” says APD Detective Steven McCormick.
Photo Credit: AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT VIA AP
Photo Credit: Patch