CLEVELAND (AP) - A retired priest pleaded guilty Thursday to promoting prostitution involving a boy in the only criminal case involving a priest to come out of an investigation of sex abuse allegations in the Cleveland diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.
The plea came as the trial of the Rev. Daniel McBride, 76, was to begin in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
McBride did not say anything specifically about his actions with a 17-year-old boy, who a prosecutor said was a runaway in the custody of the county. The retired priest refused to comment after leaving the courtroom.
He was the only priest indicted following a seven-month investigation of allegations involving the diocese.
Assistant Prosecutor Tim Miller said that as part of a plea agreement several charges were dropped, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, compelling prostitution, interference with custody and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A second count of promoting prostitution, involving the same boy, was also dropped.
The maximum penalty for promoting prostitution is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
McBride remains free on bond and is to be sentenced June 26.
The diocese previously placed McBride on administrative leave. He retired from the priesthood in 1987 but served as senior associate pastor at a church in Northfield Township, about 30 miles southeast of Cleveland.
He was accused of soliciting sex with a minor during April 2002.
Prosecutors say McBride went to a tavern in Cleveland to meet the boy and arranged to pay the youth to travel to a condominium McBride kept in Chautauqua, N.Y., for sex. Prosecutors shut the bar down in June, saying it housed a prostitution ring of boys.
The tavern's owner, Lynn Ernsberger, 61, pleaded guilty May 8 to 14 charges, including compelling prostitution. Two other men connected to prostitution at the tavern pleaded guilty May 5. Another man was awaiting trial.
The Cleveland diocese has 235 parishes with more than 800,000 Catholics and about 340 priests in eight counties.
The Catholic church has been dealing with sex abuse scandals nationwide since a prominent case in Boston in which more than 100 people said a former priest molested them. At least 325 of the country's 46,000 priests have resigned or been removed from their posts because of the scandals.
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