Feb 1, 2006

Retired Cop: "Fix Is Still On" In Robinson Case

Left: Accused murderer Father Gerald Robinson, courtesy of Knoxpages.com

(Toledo, OH) The sight of the mutilated body of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl is the darkest memory in the mind of retired Toledo Police officer Dave Davison.

“It’s one of those things that you can’t get out of your head,” said Davison, who retired after a debilitating car accident in 1990. “Seeing that poor old woman sprawled out in the chapel motivated me to keep up the pressure to see that justice was done.”

Father Gerald Robinson was charged in 2004 with aggravated murder in the death of the nun. His twice-delayed trial is scheduled for April 17 before Common Pleas Judge Thomas J. Osowik.

Davison said that the delays are part of a strategy to “fix” the case.

“What they are doing is waiting for the interest to die until Robinson’s not the flavor of the month any more,” he said. “They are also hoping the guy dies before April so it saves everyone the embarrassment of a public trial.”

Davison has dedicated part of his life to the case, which he calls “one of those that you just can’t let go.”

“Sister Margaret could have been your mother or sister. Imagine that she was related to you; would you then agree to let this man off so easily?”

Davison recently spoke to the Free Press after hearing that prosecutors amended the indictment against Robinson, removing the words “"with prior calculation and design” from the original grand jury indictment.

“The prosecutor’s office, by removing the premeditated murder stipulation, is leaving the door wide open for Robinson to take an Alford plea,” he said. “He’s going to walk. Whatever sentence they do give him, they are going to put him on shock probation. They are not required to make this public, either.”

Left: Sister Margaret Ann Pahl

Citing an existing gag order, neither defense attorneys for Robinson or the prosecutor’s office would comment on the case.

Davison said that he has no illusions that his public criticisms will have any effect on the case.

“Nothing I do or say is going to stop them,” he said. “But I don’t want to sit back and allow them to fix this case without the people of Toledo being aware of what is going on.”

His decision to go public with his criticisms has not been without personal sacrifice.

“I have been threatened with arrest by the prosecutor’s office for speaking out and refusing to play the game their way,” he said. “Also there are a lot of people in the police department who give me the cold shoulder now.”

One of the strangest incidents occurred near his home.

“I had a bunch of Catholic ladies who hunted me down at a restaurant that I used to eat breakfast at every day,” he laughed. “They said they were there to save my soul.”

Davison believes that the brutal nature of the crime leads many people to acquiesce to what he believes are efforts to keep justice from being done.

“Nobody wants to hear about this case because it is so ugly – it involves a priest killing an old woman,” he said. “Even the media wants this hushed up.”

The retired officer believes that high-ranking members of the Toledo Police helped stall the investigation in the 1980s.

“The department always had ‘go-to’ guys who would take care of embarrassing problems for the Church,” he said, declining to name specific persons. “The only reason this case finally got properly investigated was that a new generation of ‘young Turks’ came along and looked into it after I kept bugging them.”

Davison believes that any backroom dealings between the prosecutor’s office and defense attorneys before the trial date will likely be managed with a well-orchestrated script.

“I believe that they will set this up to happen around a four-day weekend, and they will have an unannounced hearing late on a Friday evening,” he said. “That way they will have a long weekend for everyone to forget about the rotten deal that was made.”

The above article also appears in this week's Toledo Free Press.


Anonymous said...


Keep up on this. The church cannot be allowed to sweep this under the rug.

I find the Catholic Church to be a disturbing institution these days. I don't mean to demean the Catholic faith. I know a couple priests and have known a few nuns. All are good people motivated to do God's work.

However, their power and influence can (and has) become too pervasive. Where is the conscience of this proud faith? Where are the young turks of the Catholic faith who will stand up and stop this abomination?


Lisa Renee said...

Father Gerald Robinson has been charged not convicted. Is he guilty? Maybe, however, I don't think it's appropriate for a former police officer to claim somone is guilty without the benefit of either a confession, a plea of guilt or a finding of guilt by a jury.

I'm not even going to get into the rest of this, cept to say I do not feel my church is a disturbing institution.

Anonymous said...

I find any institution that abets child molestation disturbing.

Call me crazy.

Lisa Renee said...

Then I'd guess anonymous you feel the same way about the Public Education System.

As well as just about every other organized religion, and non-profit groups.

Nor does this case have anything to do with the sexual abuse of children.

historymike said...

Very true, Lisa.

To his credit Davison has been living and breathing this case for over ten years. While the rest of the world forgot sbout Sister Margaret, this man singlehandedly kept the case alive.

Anonymous said...

we got schwartz's blog! your's is next!

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Davison at a local institution a few years ago and found him to be an honorable and intelligent person. Sorry, Lisa Renee, I respect his opinion.

If police officers were never allowed to believe anyone was guilty, no one would ever go to trial. Police and criminalists must make a judgment call before anyone is even charged with a crime. Obviously, from his investigation, Mr. Davison is convinced of Father Robinson's guilt and would like a chance for the evidence against him to be presented.

I would like to see this case go to trial and justice to be carried out.

historymike said...

To Anonymous, who is threatening to shut down my blog:

I now have your AOL IP number. I suggest that you find other places to make your threats.

Also, be advised that since I am a working journalist, the damages that I could seek against you would be much higher than some fellow troll. I use this site as a tool in highlighting my work and to connect with the community writ large.

McCaskey said...

It's certainly true that this man has not yet been convicted and shouldn't be pre-judged.
However, the focus on the retired cop's story is really about the police department and how higherups there and local Catholic leaders were and evidently still are in cahoots about sweeping aspects of this murder under the rug.
It's totally plausable to me given what we know about how the Church dealt with and continues to deal with the systemic child abuse/molestation cases nationwide. They dealt with these cases in extreme secrecy and knowingly passed on child molesters/abusers to parrishes down the road, while often times paying hush money to make these cases go away.
Frankly, to suggest any comparison to how the Churches' leadership dealt with this abhorrent situation with the Public Education System, other organized religion, non-profit groups, etc. is a sick joke. This is not to comdemn the Catholic faith or those who follow it. This is about the hierarchy of a very powerful institution that operates in ultra-secret fashion.

Lisa Renee said...

I didn't say Father Robinson was innocent, I wrote he is entitled to the same basic rights all of us are supposed to have, which is "innocent until proven guilty". A former investigator who should have a large role in the prosecution of a case in my opinion should not be publicly discussing this until a trial has concluded. If this goes to trial wouldnt he be called to testify? If he has been this involved in the case for this many years you would think he would be.

If they are not calling him to testify why? There has to be some reason for that.

I have nothing against this former police officer, he could very well be 100% correct in all of his statements, but I do get tired of people being tried in the media rather than in the courts where it is supposed to happen. I'm not innocent when it comes to this either, but it's something I try to remember.

It doesn't do anyone any good if the wrong person is convicted. Trials this many years after a murder are hard enough even under the best circumstances. Merely hoping Father Robinson will die doesn't answer the real questions or solve this case.

Now there is a book, next maybe a movie and we still won't know the facts, unless Father Robinson himself is truly guilty and confesses or someone else does.

Lisa Renee said...

I'd suggest you look at the figures of teachers who have sexually abused children then participated in cover ups where the district moved these teachers or other staff knowing that abuse was accused/suspected.

Frankly what I take issue with is the belief that somehow the only sexual abuse that happens to children is by Priests and that the only organization that has tried to cover that up is the Catholic Church. It is far from true or accurate. Did the Catholic Church handle abuse claims wrong in the past? Yes. Have they made alot of progress in trying to handle this issue the right way? Yes. Do they still have a ways to go? Yes. Check your recent media, locally how many teachers versus priests have been charged with sexual abuse?

Anyone who sexually abuses a child is wrong, however focusing on just one group ignoring the huge numbers of abuse cases that have nothing to do with the Catholic Church? Doesn't stop abuse.

Lisa Renee said...

Robert J. Shoop, a national expert on sexual exploitation in schools, says districts often take that approach. An educational law professor at Kansas State University, Shoop says school districts are often concerned about their reputation and fear that negative press will sour voters on school referendums and bond increases.

But Shoop says ignoring the problem makes matters worse. For one, it gives the sexual predator permission to strike again. It also silences children who don’t feel their complaint will be taken seriously, says Shoop, who adds that some districts have failed to react until a child is raped, commits suicide or is murdered.

There is no way to know how often school districts ignore or cover up sexual abuse, he says. But the number of lawsuits filed against school districts is a partial indicator since those that take prompt action are less likely to be sued.

Typically, at any given time there are between 200 and 300 school sex abuse cases in courts throughout the nation, says Shoop. “And those are the ones that get to court.”

One of many articles on this topic

Now, you can continue to tell me that stating that those who have issues with the Catholic Church are right and I'm wrong for stating that the public education system has, was and is doing the same thing or? You can realize that sexual abuse can happen anywhere and by focusing on just priests alone? Is what I take issue with. This as a former victim who was not abused by a priest. So I think I have just a tad bit of personal insight on to this issue as well as some personal bias that I openly admit. It's time to stop ignoring the other victims of sexual abuse and concentrating on just one small part of this. If the numbers of priests far outnumbered these other groups? It would be understandable. But that's not the case.

Now, I'm done, because for me this is a personal issue, it was the very church that some of you are slamming that helped me get thru what I did. I typically avoid this discussion topic for that very reason. I've seen more than enough of the Catholic bashing and I find it hypocritical when you look at who is doing the majority of sexual abuse of children past and present.

Then again that's a very sad part of human nature, casting stones without bothering to look to see who else has some broken windows of their own.

Anonymous said...

Lisa Renee -- it is morally wrong to justify bad behavior by pointing out equally bad behavior (in the public schools) that previously went unpunished. You consistently show your blinders about this situation as much as you cite studies that indicate that it exists in other areas. While I agree with you on so many other areas, you are out to lunch on this.

Anonymous said...

The fix is on absolutely as evidenced by the fact that the prosecutor hasn't charged the diocese with obstruction of justice in connection to this case.

McCaskey said...

"you are out to lunch on this".

Breakfast and dinner as well.

Certainly abuse happens in all groups, institutions, etc. In my mind, the Catholic Church, being a religious institution, has arguably a higher MORAL responsibility to deal with this issue head-on. The fact that it, often times, too many times, not ALL the time, looked the other way and by its silence and secrecy CONDONED such abuse is especially repugnent. You can direct the spotlight elsewhere all you want, I suppose, if it makes you feel any better.

Dariush said...

What is it they say?

Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals.

Here's to those Traditionalist pre-Vatican II Catholics who believe in the sanctity of the Latin Mass.

Anonymous said...

And objecting to an accused murderer getting specialized treatment because of his profession is anti-catholicism in what way?

McCaskey said...

"What is it they say?

Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals.

Here's to those Traditionalist pre-Vatican II Catholics who believe in the sanctity of the Latin Mass."---earlier post

I, for one am NOT anti-Catholic. I have several friends of that faith, all good, decent, family-oriented people.
Fact is, I suppose we've veered off subject a bit by focusing on the abuse scandal, which was not the topic of original post.
My initial post was to attempt to point out if the Church engaged in coverup/secrecy over the abuse situation (and it did), it could well done so for similar reasons locally concerning the accused priest. And those who attempt to protect the Church, at any cost under any circumstance, could well have been higherups in the police dept. of similar religious persuasion or simply wishing to protect the local Diocese. It's a theory and not meant to be intended as a statement of fact. The man is entitled to a fair trial.

Anonymous said...

I am not anti-Catholic either. Members of my family are Catholic.

And bad behavior by others doesn't excuse the institutional cover-up perpetrated by the Catholic Church.

Having said that, I can see where a cover-up of a crime so heinous as this would be a reasonable claim.


historymike said...

Well, I for one am Catholic (despite the attempts of my neo-Nazi trolls to paint me as a "filthy kike" and so forth) and I agree that elements within the Church have acted in the past to cover up criminal activity.

Mr. Davison's comments come as no suprise to me.

Dariush said...

"And objecting to an accused murderer getting specialized treatment because of his profession is anti-catholicism in what way?"

It isn't. That is, it isn't until you throw in stuff about child abuse and molestation that has absolutely nothing to do with this case, call the Church a "disturbing institution", say that its "power and influence" has "become to pervasive" and start talking about "the hierarchy of a very powerful institution that operates in ultra-secret fashion" ...

I mean, is it just me? Is there any other non-Protestant religous faith or institution that one can say the same thing about in the U.S. and not be roundly condemned from all quarters?

McCaskey said...

"I mean, is it just me? Is there any other non-Protestant religous faith or institution that one can say the same thing about in the U.S. and not be roundly condemned from all quarters?"--earlier post

Dariush, I know of no other religious faith, or instiution for that matter, that has the systemic abuse/molestation issue that the Catholic Church has had and continues to have. Lutherans? Baptists? Jews? Pentacostals? Methodists? No, no, no, and no. I don't claim to know all the reasons, but I have some strong opinions as to why. But, that is perhaps a topic for another day.

Calico Jack said...


Thanks for the article. Please keep up the good work. I've been waiting for this one to hit the fan, and wondering why the case doesn't go to trial.

The only other religous group I know of that was involved in a systemic scandal are the Jehova's Witnesses. There have been several cases involving child custody battles between a JW and non-JW where the kids disappear in the JW underground. I remember hearing about RICCO charges several years back.

Anonymous said...

If you have lived in Toledo for any length of time you may remember when law enforcement was going after Pastor Pitts with particular zeal. Face it -- Toledo is 50% catholic and Julia Bates considers whether or not she will anger her electorate in the next election.

Anonymous said...

Dariush asked: "Is it just me?"

Um, in short, yeah. It is just you.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Nice article Mike.

Face it folks, the Catholic Church is big business, and like many other big businesses they occasionally do things to protect "the business."

The fact that their "business" is religion is just one of those pesky little details...

Anonymous said...

Mike -- Just curious about what Davison's post-conviction opinions are? I would have liked to hear more from him after Robinson was sent to prison.