Plea Deal Directs HIV-Positive Priest to 'Early Intervention Program'

  • McGonegal
The Rev. James McGonegal of St. Ignatius of Antioch Church pleaded guilty this morning to soliciting sex from a Cleveland Metroparks ranger and omitting the fact that he was HIV-positive.

(Read the original story below.)

McGonegal will now participate in an early intervention program, per a plea deal that's been in the works for months. If he completes with program, he will avoid a felony conviction and get all record of this crime expunged.

Needless to say, the plea deal also bans McGonegal from all Cleveland Metroparks property.

Originally published Oct. 15, 2013

The Rev. James McGonegal of St. Ignatius of Antioch Church will appear in court this morning after exposing himself and then some in the Cleveland Metroparks Oct. 11.

McGonegal pulled into the Edgewater Park parking lot, and a plain-clothes park ranger happened to be in the area. The ranger was leaving the parking lot and about to head down the trail head, but McGonegal had rolled down his window and begun tapping on the door frame. He was gesturing toward the ranger.

As the report goes on, the ranger continued walking out of sight, but then stopped and headed back to figure out what was going on. As he returned to the SUV, McGonegal was pulling out of his spot, but then quickly shifted back into it when he saw the ranger approaching.

The two got into conversation, with McGonegal explaining that he wanted "to get off," and that he'd pay $50. The ranger questioned him and soon asked to "see it." McGonegal then exposed himself to the ranger and began masturbating in his car. The ranger explained who we was and promptly arrested the priest.

A search of the car turned up three cock rings and a bottle labeled "Pig Sweat." It was nail polish remover, which McGonegal huffed to "get a buzz." The bottle had an image of a "pig/man figure wearing buttocks-free chaps," as the report explains.

The Cleveland Catholic Diocese released their statement Friday night: "Diocesan authorities have a policy of cooperating with civil authorities in these kinds of matters, and will do so in this matter."

According to those close to the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, McGonegal's sexual orientation was basically an open secret around town, though it's unclear if the Diocese or fellow priests knew that he was HIV positive.

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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