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Protest At Priest's Bail Party

Rev. Gerald Robinson stands during his initial appearance in Toledo, Ohio Municipal Court, Monday morning, April 26, 2004. Robinson, 66, was charged Friday with killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, who was strangled and stabbed 32 times on April 5, 1980. A plea was not entered.
AP
Rev. Gerald Robinson, 66, is in a lot of trouble but he isn't without friends.

The semi-retired Toledo, Ohio, priest - accused of murdering a nun on Easter weekend 24 years ago - was arrested last week and is now out on bail.

Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, 71, was strangled and stabbed 32 times on April 5, 1980, in what police said appeared to be a ritualistic murder. Robinson was long a suspect in her death and on Friday was indicted on a charge of aggravated murder.

Pahl's body was found with her arms folded, covered by an altar cloth, surrounded by lit candles, in a chapel at Mercy Hospital - where Robinson reportedly was a chaplain at the time. Details of the case have prompted the Toledo Diocese to begin an investigation of claims of satanic sex abuse by priests.

Robinson, who could be arraigned as soon as this week, is expected to enter a not guilty plea.

The Toledo Blade reports Robinson posted a $400,000 property bond Monday by putting up a house he owns with his brother, his brother's house, and the homes of two friends.

Robinson, who was arrested on April 26, did not talk to reporters as he exited the back door of the jail.

Some 70 of his supporters then held a banquet to celebrate his release, according to The Blade, which reports the event also attracted a protestor: a woman carrying a nun doll, yelling "Justice for Sister Margaret!"

The woman reportedly became enraged when one of the priest's supporters failed to hold a door open for her, and according to the paper, she allegedly began hitting him with the nun doll, which he grabbed, at which point she ripped his shirt and knocked off his glasses.

Robinson, who reportedly has three lawyers on his defense team, was arrested after investigators analyzed blood patterns and concluded that the murder weapon was in his "control." They have not identified the weapon or who owned it.

Regardless of the outcome of the trial, Robinson is not subject to the death penalty because it was not in effect in Ohio at the time of the killing.

A conviction could mean life in prison with eligibility for parole after 20 years.

Detectives have said some type of ceremony appears to have been a part of the killing. Police also say they believe Robinson acted alone.

Investigators began to review the slaying after a woman contacted them alleging she was physically and sexually abused as a child by several priests, including Robinson.

Three other people came forward after Robinson's arrest, claiming they were abused by priests in rituals years ago.

Authorities reopened the murder case in December based on information in a letter sent to prosecutors, but they would not say who sent the letter or what it contained.