It had been a hell of a day. Douglas Burkhart had spent the afternoon visiting a friend who was dying of colon cancer at University Hospitals. What Burkhart really needed was a beer.
He stepped into Rockies, a popular gay bar on a rundown section of Detroit Avenue. Burkhart was gay, but he was also a sheriff's deputy, the lieutenant in charge of the sex-crimes unit. On this March day in 2002, work was the furthest thing from his mind.
The den-like bar was packed, as it often was on Sunday afternoons, with gay men unwinding after their weekly bowling outing. Burkhart squeezed through the crowd and sidled up to the bar. Waiting for his beer, he overheard a pale, white-haired man tell another patron, "There is nothing built like a 15-year-old boy." The man continued to talk in strikingly vivid terms about his appreciation for boys, mentioning that he had recently taken one out on his boat.
Burkhart didn't think much of it. He often heard this kind of loose talk at gay bars -- especially when gymnasts were on TV. It wasn't much different from straight men lusting after Britney Spears.
A man named Bob Shoup came over to say hi. They had met more than a decade before, when Shoup was working as a bartender at a gay bar Burkhart frequented. Shoup was an excitable, middle-aged man with slicked-back hair and a paunch. Burkhart didn't consider him a friend, but their relationship was cordial. In fact, Burkhart was in the market for a townhouse, and a calendar advertising Shoup's real-estate services hung on his refrigerator.
Shoup was there with the white-haired man, who was introduced to Burkhart as Dan McBride, a retiree now living in New York. When McBride excused himself to go to the restroom, Burkhart asked Shoup how he knew him. Shoup, looking Burkhart in the eyes, made the sign of the cross and then brought his hands together, as if in prayer.
He's a priest? Burkhart asked.
Yes, Shoup said.
Just a few months earlier and hundreds of miles away, the Boston Globe had exposed a widespread pattern of sexual abuse by priests -- all of it covered up by church authorities. These priests were serious predators, who got away with their crimes for decades. John Geoghan had molested young boys in half a dozen parishes. Joseph Birmingham allegedly had abused at least 50 boys before his death in 1989.
Before long, such stories would dominate the national news and mushroom into the biggest scandal the church has faced in modern times.
In March -- about the same time as Burkhart met Shoup -- The Plain Dealer picked up the ball locally with a series of articles documenting the Catholic Church's shabby treatment of victims sexually abused by priests. The next month, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason launched an inquiry into sex abuse within the Diocese of Cleveland. The seven-month probe uncovered 1,019 victims claiming to have been sexually abused by 496 suspects -- 145 of them priests.
Yet when it was all over, only one priest would be indicted: Father Daniel McBride.
McBride attended St. Ignatius High School and decided to join the priesthood soon after graduating in 1944. He earned two degrees from St. Mary's Seminary -- in philosophy and theology -- and was ordained a priest by Archbishop Edward Hoban in 1951.
For the next 36 years, McBride was assigned to parishes throughout Greater Cleveland, mostly in the inner city. He served at St. Joseph in Collinwood for four years, starting in 1961, and had a positive influence on some of the children to whom he ministered.
"If it wasn't for the guidance and counseling given to me by Dan, I would never have achieved the education and professional success that I have today," wrote Lawrence Inzano, the owner of a catering company outside Chicago, in a letter of support before McBride's sentencing hearing. "I could have very easily gone in a different direction."
In 1984, McBride purchased a condominium in Chautauqua, New York, from his brother Charles. The condo had rather opulent accoutrements. "We've got a golf course, restaurant, racquetball courts, tennis courts, docks," Dan would later tell an acquaintance. "We've got all the boats in front of there." (Through his attorney, McBride declined Scene's interview request.)
McBride retired in 1987 and for the next six years continued his education, first at the University of Notre Dame and then at Syracuse University. In 1992, he broke off his studies and returned to Chautauqua to care for his brother Charles, who was dying of cancer. After Charles died, McBride was asked to volunteer as a senior associate pastor at St. Barnabas's Church in Northfield, where he would spend two or three days each week for the next eight years.
Throughout his service as a priest, few who knew him seem to have suspected McBride of anything untoward. Molly Rice and her six siblings, who range in age from 33 to 50, have known McBride for as long as they remember. "In all those years, we have -- none of us -- ever heard so much as a hint of a rumor of any misbehavior on McBride's part, nor can any of us . . . come up with any incident where we felt the least uncomfortable with McBride," Rice wrote in a letter of support for the priest. "Together we have 18 children, ranging in age from six months to 22 years. None of us would hesitate to leave any of our children in his company."
Yet McBride had been living a double life for decades.
Shoup befriended the priest in 1983, under unusual circumstances. Shoup had gone camping with his boyfriend in New York, and during the trip, McBride picked up Shoup's boyfriend and had sex with him, Shoup later told authorities.
Shoup apparently forgave McBride. At the time, Shoup was planning to move to Northeast Ohio, where McBride was then working as a pastor for St. Ann Church in Cleveland Heights. After moving to town, Shoup says, he saw the priest at gay parties about once a year. That changed in early 2002, when Shoup ran into McBride at a bar.
McBride expressed a desire to hang out more often. By then, he had retired from active priesthood and seemed to be feeling freer to explore his sexuality. He asked Shoup, who was something of a man about town in the gay community, to be his tour guide.
Shoup says he regarded McBride as a pitiful character, "an old, frail man," who wasn't much fun to hang out with. But he agreed to take him out.
That's how Father McBride ended up at Marshall McCarron's.
Marshall McCarron's was more "gay-friendly" than gay; straights also felt at home there. Located on a busy corner in Ohio City, McCarron's was a classy joint, popular among lawyers and judges. At one time, a pianist played a baby grand three nights a week. An expensive chandelier gleamed from the ceiling.
Lately, however, the crowd had begun to change. Part of the problem was competition from the Fulton Avenue Café, which drew away some of the yuppies. But there was something else, too: In the gay community, McCarron's was beginning to gain a reputation as a place to pick up young hustlers.
They were known as "Lyn's boys," after the bar's owner, Lyn Ernsberger. Ernsberger had white hair, glasses, and a penchant for underage lovers. "Young boys made me feel alive and young again," the 62-year-old man would later say. His bar, and the house that he rented next door, at 1743 Randall Road, became a flophouse for runaways.
One was Richie, a 20-year-old heroin addict who was only about 13 or 14 years old when he started having sex with Ernsberger. Another was Donny, a 16-year-old whom Ernsberger once allegedly described as aggressive in bed and good at sex. But Ernsberger's favorite, his "ongoing project," as he would say, was David.
David was a tall, handsome 17-year-old. "Your typical jock-teenager son," was how Ernsberger described him to Scene. "I'm sure that's why he was so popular. He was everybody's little idol." David's childhood had been troubled. His mom had been murdered. He was a ward of the state, but had run away and moved in with Ernsberger in winter 2001.
Ernsberger gave David the use of a car, offered him alcohol, and bought him weed and coke, David later told police. Ernsberger admits that he had sex with David several times, but says that after four months, their relationship was more like that of father and son. David brought girlfriends around, and his jilted lovers would sometimes wail for him outside, Ernsberger says. "Everybody he met fell in love with him immediately."
In April 2002, David met Father McBride.
Shoup saw McBride at Twist and suggested they go to McCarron's for dinner. They got to the tavern sometime after 5 p.m. David came over and sat down at their booth.
Shoup had met David at least once before. According to Shoup, David had solicited him, asking if Shoup wanted to give him a blow job for $40. Shoup claims he turned the kid down, but had given David his business card and taken David's number. Now David was asking why Shoup never called.
McBride offered to buy David a drink. The young man ordered pop. According to Shoup, David seemed to be flirting with McBride -- sitting close, asking if he wanted to have a good time. McBride was receptive to the boy's charms. They made a date. David agreed to drive McBride to his condo in Chautauqua the next weekend, where he would have sex with McBride for $150.
David would later tell authorities his account of what happened next:
"We left on Friday at 7 a.m., a week after our conversation at Marshall's," David told the sheriff's department. "Dan slept while I drove the deep purple, four-door Camry. Dan told me how to get there. I met his niece and nephew; they lived in the same condo as Dan. They are in their late 20s.
"Inside his condo is a cream carpet, older TV, crosses, and pictures of Jesus. We stayed at the condo for six hours, then drove back to Cleveland, because I didn't feel comfortable staying the night.
"He bought me a six-pack of Bacardi Silver, Newport Lights, and a CD. I drank three Bacardis. He flushed out his anal [sic] with an enema in the bathtub, then released it in the toilet. I put on three condoms. I don't know the exact words, but he wanted anal sex.
"I performed anal sex on him in the bedroom of his condo . . . We had sex for two minutes because he said he couldn't handle it. He said, 'I guess I'm too old to be gay.' After we stopped having anal sex, we just relaxed. We then drove back to Cleveland."
In the summer of 2001, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department busted a man who had allegedly picked up a couple of underage boys at Edgewater Park, a popular spot for gay cruisers and prostitutes. He took the boys home, took photos of them in provocative poses, and then posted the pictures on the internet, according to authorities.
The boys told the sheriff's office that they had once been at Parmadale, a home for troubled youths operated by Cleveland Catholic Charities. The boys claimed they had run away from Parmadale because a counselor there had molested them. One of the boys also talked about a bar in Cleveland where underage hustlers could pick up tricks. At the time, Lieutenant Douglas Burkhart thought the boy was referring to a gay bar suspected of employing underage strippers.
Then, on December 28, 2001, Cleveland Police received an anonymous letter from someone who identified herself as "a concerned grandmother of five teenage boys living in Ohio City." The letter complained about a local bar "actively involved in drugs, teen prostitution, and providing illicit sex for its customers." The bar named was Marshall McCarron's.
The police department contacted Burkhart to brief him on the complaint. Burkhart's eyes grew wide as he realized that the boy from Edgewater had very likely been talking about McCarron's. Cleveland Police Detective John Graves went undercover to McCarron's to investigate.
Graves took a seat at the bar and within minutes noticed three men having a conversation. He recognized two: Lyn Ernsberger and Martin Lynch, a friend of Ernsberger's who lived above McCarron's.
Ernsberger was talking about a 16-year-old boy who was "a sex maniac" and "would do anything you wanted," Graves later wrote in a report. All three of the men laughed and began talking more softly to each other.
Soon after, Graves contacted Deputy Burkhart and related what he had heard about the 16-year-old. It seemed to confirm Burkhart's suspicion that McCarron's was a haven for teen prostitutes. Burkhart told Graves he would look into the matter, but he didn't get a chance during the early months of 2002. The sex-crimes unit was busy with the investigation into Parmadale -- which would ultimately result in six current and former employees being indicted on rape and other sex-related charges.
Then, in April 2002, the sheriff's department got another tip about McCarron's. A confidential informant named Jesse said that drug-dealing was taking place at both the bar and the house Ernsberger shared with his young lovers.
The narcotics unit set up a sting. On April 30, Jesse bought $20 of marijuana from David at Ernsberger's house and less than a gram of cocaine from another dealer at McCarron's.
Two days later, about 35 officers raided the bar and the house early in the morning. The officers rousted Lynch from his bed on the third floor above McCarron's. At the house, officers found Lyn Ernsberger, David, and David's then-girlfriend. The young woman was sent home, and the rest were taken in for questioning.
Burkhart looked on as David was questioned by Detective Richard Peters and Sergeant Robert Havranek. David told the officers that he was a runaway and had been staying with Ernsberger, who bought him alcohol and took him to gay bars.
"During your five-month period staying with Lyn, did he make sexual advances?" the officers asked, according to a witness statement.
"He would say he wanted to fuck me and blow me," David said. "He said he wanted to sleep with me."
David mentioned that, one time, back in March 2002, a drunken Ernsberger walked in on him in the shower and grabbed his genitals roughly. David said he punched Ernsberger in the chin, then closed the door on him.
"Did you report this to the police?"
"No," David said. "I was afraid that they would take me away to a foster home, and I didn't want that to happen."
David said that Martin Lynch, a friend of Ernsberger's, had also offered money for sex. There was another guy too. His name was Dan.
David didn't know Dan's last name, but had a clue that might identify him. During their trip to Chautauqua, David said, he had met Dan's niece and nephew. David noticed that the relatives had called Dan "Father," as if he were a priest.
David also mentioned a man named "Bob." He didn't remember his last name either, but he had the man's business card. He showed it to the officers.
"Aw, shit," Burkhart thought.
It was Bob Shoup. The picture on the card was the same as the one on the calendar hanging on Burkhart's refrigerator. And "Father Dan" was clearly Dan McBride, the man that Burkhart had met at Rockies.
On May 8, two officers interviewed Shoup at his house in Lakewood. At first he seemed friendly and cooperative. He said he had been to McCarron's about four times in the past year.
"Have you ever been approached by anyone at Marshall McCarron's Tavern attempting to solicit sex for money?" Shoup was asked.
"Yes," Shoup said. A tall, blond boy had solicited him in June 2001. Then, on April 21, another boy named David had offered to have sex with him for $40.
"Was there anyone there that witnessed these incidents?"
"A guy named Dan," Shoup said. "I don't know his last name. I met him in Jamestown, New York. He's a friend of mine."
The interviewers seized on the mention of "Dan," and Shoup grew cagier, more defensive. His claim of not remembering Dan's last name seemed an obvious lie.
A few day's after Shoup's interview, Dan McBride called the Sheriff's Department and asked for Burkhart. McBride told him that he had heard that Shoup had been interviewed. McBride seemed to be fishing for information. Then he invited Burkhart to dinner.
On May 22, 2002, Burkhart met McBride for dinner at Snickers Tavern, a gay-friendly restaurant on West 76th Street. Unbeknownst to McBride, Burkhart was wearing a wire. Not only would it play a major role in the case; it would also shed light on the secret life of a gay priest.
Burkhart and McBride dined on crab cakes and chatted lightly. After dinner, McBride turned the conversation to the recent Catholic Church scandal. He hoped that, when it was all over, the church would recognize that priests are sexual beings too -- and that some are gay.
"Back in the 1960s, would you have ever come to a place like this?" Burkhart asked. "I mean, in this town, where you were working?"
"Probably not, no," McBride said. "Realistically, in 1960, no."
"And in certain places it looks like the seminary on Saturday night now," Burkhart joked.
"Yeah, that really is how it is," McBride said.
They compared notes on seeing clergy in gay bars. Then Burkhart stammered as he asked McBride a personal question: "So, whenever you had sex . . . were you bound to go to confession and confess it before you said Mass, or . . .?"
"Well, you were supposed to, yes," McBride said.
"Do you think all these priests do?"
"No," McBride said. "I think they changed their minds and decided it's not a sin."
After a long monologue on sex and the Catholic church, McBride seemed ready to wrap up the discussion. "Now we have to continue these conversations, and you'll have to come up to Chautauqua and we could -- "
"Well, one of these days, maybe you could talk me into that," Burkhart interjected, then brought the conversation to the issue at hand: "But I was really glad you called me, because I needed to talk to you anyway. I don't know if Bob has talked to you yet, it's, ahem, really unfortunate . . . I don't know how to tell you this, but . . . you guys used to go over to a place called Marshall McCarron's . . ."
"I know that I went over there one time," McBride said. "He said that the food was good and it was cheap. It was cheap, but I didn't think it was all that good."
Burkhart laughed. Then he turned serious again. He told McBride that the sheriff's department was investigating charges of underaged prostitution at the bar. "And . . . you know, some people have mentioned your name."
McBride seemed to panic. "Well . . . I recall . . . that night we were there . . . Bob and I . . . We were talking about boats, because we have boats."
"Okay, okay. That wasn't that long ago you were there either, was it?" Burkhart asked.
McBride explained that a kid he met at McCarron's was interested in boats. McBride had a boat in New York and invited the kid to see it. The boy's name was Dave.
"Okay," Burkhart said. "He never approached you in the bar or . . . never?"
"I never . . ." McBride stammered. "I'm probably too old. I'm 75."
"He never came up and offered sex for money, or anything of that nature?" Burkhart asked.
"Not to me, he didn't," McBride said.
"To other people, did he?"
McBride coughed. "That time frame," he said, coughing again. "I'm trying to think back. I was there with Shoup . . . I know Shoup told me later that the place was raided for drugs and everything, and I said, 'Shoup, what kind of place are you taking me to?' I mean, my God!"
"I was just going for a decent meal," McBride said.
"Yeah," Burkhart said.
"I mean, I need this like a hole in the head," McBride said.
"Well," Burkhart said.
"He got so bored with the whole place that I never did see him again," McBride said, meaning David.
Burkhart asked McBride what he and David had talked about on the ride to New York.
"Well, he told me what a terrible life he had, and he was apparently in reform school and he was in and out of . . . foster homes . . . and things like that. I did feel sorry for him though, you know?" McBride said, adding that David had told him he wanted to work with computers, and that he seemed bored during their trip.
"Well, we have sort of a different story," Burkhart said. "And . . . it's not good. You know how old he is?"
"He said he was 18," McBride said. "He told me that he was born in . . . '83, or something like that."
"He's not," Burkhart said.
"Huh," McBride said. "Nobody told me that."
"Bob Shoup was approached at Marshall McCarron's, and . . . he was requested if he would give money for sex."
"Ohhh," McBride said.
"And you were there at the time," Burkhart said. "You went up to New York with a 17-year-old and crossed state lines. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Yeah, I know. My God! I can see that."
"It could only get worse, if you want me to go on."
"Well, I mean, what can I do? Anything?" McBride asked desperately.
"I like you," Burkhart said. "I will not let anything happen to you, and . . . all I can do is promise, put my hand on a Bible, and I think you already know what I mean and what I'm saying. But we are going to need a statement from you as to what happened at Marshall McCarron's . . . Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Yeah," McBride said.
Burkhart mentioned that he had taken Shoup's statement and believed most of it to be truthful. Then he brought home the gravity of McBride's predicament.
"Okay, if you go offer somebody under the age of 18 money for sex, it's a felony. Okay? It's a very serious matter, okay? You don't want to be embarrassed. You don't want to embarrass St. Barnabas," Burkhart said, referring to the church where McBride served as senior pastor.
"Mmm-hmm," McBride said.
"And all I'm asking you to do is do what Bob Shoup did, and you gotta trust somebody, and I think you already trust me."
"I do trust you," McBride said. "I'll do whatever you tell me to do."
Burkhart told McBride he would have to make a statement that he was offered sex for money at McCarron's. "You know damn well that there was prostitution going on in there," Burkhart said.
"Oh God, yeah," McBride said. "I mean, Shoup said . . . he had told me a couple times." He looked ill.
"I don't want you to go and have a heart attack or something," Burkhart said. "It's not worth it."
"I wish I hadn't paid any attention to him," McBride said, referring to David.
"Trust me, would you?"
"I will trust you. My God! I trust you."
"Okay, but we need the truth. There were kids in there. We know that. Those kids were soliciting people for sex. Did you . . . did you actually offer him money for sex, or was it just a trip?"
"It was just a trip. In fact, I paid him $20 for driving me up and down."
Burkhart offered a non sequitur: "It's that term 'hustler,' huh?"
"Huh?" McBride asked.
"The term 'hustler,' huh?"
"Ohhh," McBride said.
"Oh God," McBride said. "You're awfully kind, I mean . . . " He laughed nervously. "Nothing like this has ever happened to me before."
"Did you buy him anything else while you were there?"
"He wanted to go to the mall."
"He wanted to go to the mall. And he wanted to buy one of these horrible rap records, you know? I bought him that . . . I was gonna buy him dinner that night, but he was in a godawful hurry to get back to Cleveland, so . . . "
"Did you notice him use any drugs when he was with you?"
"No! I didn't notice anything."
"That may have been why he was in such a hurry to get back."
"It was apparent that he didn't enjoy it," McBride said.
"He didn't enjoy what?" Burkhart asked.
"Seeing the boats and stuff, you know? He acted like he was bored with it all . . . "
"You guys went over to see your relatives?"
"Yeah . . . I stopped by to see my niece . . . but we were in and outta there . . . And he says I had sex with him?"
"He what?" Burkhart asked.
"He said I had sex with him?"
"I can't let you know what he said directly. That would be unprofessional."
"Uh-huh," McBride said.
"Forgetting about the Clinton technicalities, what did you guys do?"
"You mean as far as sex?"
"Well, I'm not very sexy, it's sad to say. And ah . . . he did grab me."
"Like grabbed you where . . . in the genitals?"
"Yeah, but he didn't get any reaction out of it." McBride coughed. "I think maybe that's when he just gave up on me."
Burkhart again reminded McBride of the seriousness of the situation, then asked, "So you're saying what, he masturbated you?"
"He tried to, but I . . . I just wasn't . . . "
"So what did he do? He unzipped your pants . . . "
"And then you paid him for that?"
"He wanted to get paid, and I says, 'Uh, you know, we just came up for . . . to see boats and things, and I was happy you drove, but -- ' I says, 'I'm not attracted to you.' And after that he sort of just ignored me."
"So he didn't really get you off then?"
"He tried, though?"
"He did. I guess if you know . . . "
"And did you initiate that or he initiate it?"
"Yeah, he did, he started it, and I was . . . um . . . I was very surprised."
"Was it like with his hand, or was he initiating with his mouth, or what?"
"Hand." McBride made a pained noise.
"Don't look like that," Burkhart said. "You'll be fine. And don't go home and have a heart attack."
They talked some more, then Burkhart mused aloud: "All these different versions of stories."
"What can I say?" McBride said. "I can only say what I remembered."
"Your family gave you up, I guess," Burkhart said.
"How do you mean?"
"He would of never known that you were a priest until they called you 'Father Dan.'"
McBride said that was true.
"Ever watch Columbo?" Burkhart said. "It's always some little thing, isn't it?"
"You gonna sleep OK tonight?"
"I'm gonna put great trust in you," McBride said.
McBride paid the check and they left Snickers. As Burkhart walked McBride to his car, the lieutenant told McBride, "I've got a hell of a day tomorrow morning." Then McBride drove off.
In April 2002, a month before Burkhart met McBride for dinner at Snickers, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason began his inquiry into the Diocese of Cleveland.
He assigned four assistant prosecutors to work full-time and 25 others to work part-time, sifting through more than 37,000 pages of diocesan documents in pursuit of sex abuse claims -- some of which dated back more than 50 years. The team worked in a basement office of the Justice Center that they nicknamed "The Bunker." On a blackboard, someone scribbled a quote that was to become the team's guiding light: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
During the investigation, Bishop Anthony Pilla identified 28 priests as possible abusers. Thirteen of them were no longer active, and Pilla suspended the other 15, including McBride, who got his walking papers from his senior associate pastor position at St. Barnabas's Church on July 4.
Statutes of limitations would offer shelter to many of those accused. On December 4, an obviously frustrated Mason held a news conference to announce that a grand jury had indicted just seven people after his seven-month probe. Six of the indictments were handed down against current and former employees of Parmadale, the home for troubled youths operated by Catholic Charities. The remaining indictment was against Father McBride.
In the weeks leading up to McBride's trial, scheduled for May 2003, some of the key figures in the Marshall McCarron's case accepted plea bargains that committed them to testifying against McBride. Prosecutors also discovered that one day before he took David to Chautauqua, McBride had cashed a personal check for $200 at St. Barnabas's Church.
Then there was the tape. Prosecutor John Mitchell and detectives from the sheriff's office convened with one of McBride's lawyers to listen to the recording of McBride's conversation with Burkhart. Not only had McBride admitted to paying a 17-year-old with whom he'd had an abortive sexual encounter, but he had also offered several candid and potentially humiliating commentaries about homosexuality and the Catholic Church.
McBride and his lawyers had been backed into a corner. "They saw that this was not only going to be terribly embarrassing for McBride -- they saw that this was going to be a losing battle," says Prosecutor Tim Miller. (One of McBride's lawyers, Brian Downey, declined to comment on the factors involved in his client's decision to plead guilty.)
On May 15, 2003, Lieutenant Douglas Burkhart, who was in Washington, D.C., for Police Memorial Week, got a call in his hotel room. It was Sergeant Robert Havranek of the sex-crimes unit, calling to give him good news: McBride had agreed to plead guilty to promoting prostitution, a third-degree felony.
Burkhart got back to Cleveland that night and awoke the next morning to find the resolution of the case splashed on the front page of the newspaper. The headline read: "Priest admits paying boy, 17, for sex."
Although he continued to protest his innocence, Robert Shoup pleaded guilty to multiple prostitution charges and was sentenced to three years' probation. John McKenzie, a 69-year-old friend of Shoup's, pleaded guilty to multiple prostitution charges and was sentenced to three years' probation. Martin Lynch, the man who lived on the third floor above the bar, struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor solicitation counts and a felony charge of unauthorized use of property, for not paying gas bills. He was sentenced to two years' probation.
Lyn Ernsberger, the owner of Marshall McCarron's, pleaded guilty to 14 crimes, including racketeering, prostitution, corrupting people with drugs, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. At his sentencing, Judge Ann Mannen called him a "puppetmaster" who traded young boys "like baseball cards." She sentenced the 62-year-old to eight years in prison.
Although McBride's role in the McCarron's case was a relatively minor one, he attracted the most media attention by far, thanks to the coincidence of Mason's priest probe. On June 26, the day of McBride's sentencing, more than half a dozen camera crews crammed into Judge Mannen's courtroom.
Pale as a ghost, McBride wore a blank expression as assistant prosecutor John Mitchell wondered aloud whether McBride was "a wolf in sheep's clothing." When he was given a chance to speak, McBride apologized for his "irresponsible actions," saying he had set a "terrible example" for David and had contributed to the shadow that had been cast on the Catholic Church.
"Whether people forgive me or not, I shall pray they forgive me," McBride said softly.
Judge Mannen could have sentenced him to five years in prison, but she seemed to be sympathetic. "Some have told me to lock him up forever and let him rot," she said. "Others have told me to leave this man alone and let him go on with his life."
In the end, she let McBride off with three years' probation. She cautioned those who were "looking for a pound of flesh" that McBride should not be used as a scapegoat for the Catholic Church. "He is not the poster child for pedophile priests," she said.
Indeed, no evidence was ever revealed to suggest that McBride had sexually abused any of the youngsters placed in his charge. McBride seems, to the contrary, much as Bob Shoup had described him: a frail, pitiful old man, who had lived in the closet most of his life and who, in the twilight of his years, tried to recapture his lost youth by sleeping with a 17-year-old prostitute.
Throughout the investigation, Burkhart had occasional flashes of compassion for the priest. "I was sympathetic to his closeted life -- supressed by an institution that he loved," Burkhart says. Yet looking back on their first meeting at Rockies and the words he overheard McBride say about a 15-year-old boy, Burkhart is convinced that justice was served. "For a priest, retired or not, it was completely inappropriate."
Cris Glaser and Jack Holland contributed to this story.
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