A Catholic priest is accused of sexually assaulting a dying woman as he was giving her last rites, Austin’s KEYE-TV reports. The alleged incident took place in 2018, but it took prosecutors a few months to put together a case.
Gerold Langsch, 75, struck a plea deal that allowed him to plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of assault by contact. He entered his plea on Wednesday.
Authorities say that in October 2018, the unidentified woman, suffering from various unidentified health issues, believed that she was nearing the end of her life, as did her ex-husband, and wanted to have last rites performed on her. Last rites, for those not familiar, is a ritual in the Roman Catholic Church in which a priest absolves the dying person of their sins.
To that end, the ex-husband contacted the Knights of Columbus to send out a priest to their home, and those duties fell to Langsch. On October 5, he showed up to the home to do the ritual.
Warning: the next paragraph contains content that may be disturbing to some readers.
According to the criminal complaint against Langsch, he started the ritual by applying holy water, as is customary. Then, he applied lotion to her chest and, according to the affidavit, “he massaged her breast and pinched her nipple, saying ‘does that feel good?'”
The alleged victim, who survived her illness, said that at the time she was shocked and confused, and that she felt like “a nasty, dirty piece of meat.”
Police were notified five days later, and then it took months for them to put together a criminal case against the priest. That’s because her severe health issues made it difficult for cops to interview her. Eventually, however, she was well enough to identify her alleged assailant from a lineup of photos presented to her.
According to Austin’s KXAN-TV, the crime Langsch was charged with — assault by contact — is generally a class C misdemeanor in Texas. However, authorities upgraded the charge to a more-serious Class A misdemeanor because the victim was disabled.
Three other victims have claimed that Langsch sexually abused them, although it appears none of them have filed criminal charges against the priest.
Meanwhile, Langsch has been sentenced to 300 days probation and a $1,000 fine. If he violates the terms of his probation, which includes having no contact with the victim, he could be put in jail for 300 days and be fined $4,000.
He is also forbidden from performing last rites in the United States. According to a statement from the Diocese of Austin, he is also forbidden, by the Diocese, of ever performing Catholic ministry in the Diocese again.