Former Charleroi pastor sentenced on child porn charge
A former priest in Charleroi on Friday continues to deny the abuse allegation that led to his departure from the Catholic Church but sought mercy from a federal judge on the child pornography charge that landed him in court.
When David Dzermejko, 65, of Braddock pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography in November, he admitted that he traveled to Thailand to have sex with teenage boys.
He told U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer that although he apologizes for those crimes, he denies molesting children under his care as a priest.
“I stand before you with deep remorse and a sincere regret for any crimes I have committed, and I throw myself on the mercy of the court,” he said.
Fischer sentenced Dzermejko to three years in prison and 12 years of probation. She ordered him to register as a sex offender until he is ordered to report to prison. He could have gotten 10 years in prison.
Michael Klein of Mason, Ohio, testified that his brother wrote in his journal and told his therapist that Dzermejko molested him when he was 12. Though his brother went on to marry and have children, the memory haunted him, he said. Klein said his brother “could never find inner peace” and committed suicide on April 9, 2009.
The Rev. Ron Lengwin said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh investigated allegations made by Klein's family, the first it received against Dzermejko. The diocese determined that the claim was credible enough to put him on administrative leave in June 2009.
“He's never going to have a position with the church again,” Lengwin said.
Since the Klein family's allegation became public, two other people have come forward with similar allegations the diocese found credible, Lengwin said. Although all of the accusations were forwarded to police, none resulted in criminal charges because the incidents are alleged to have occurred long enough ago that the statute of limitations precludes them.
A federal grand jury indicted Dzermejko on the child porn possession charge in May.
Now that he has been sentenced, the diocese will prepare a case and send it to the Vatican, asking that he be removed from the priesthood, Lengwin said.
Dzermejko spent 18 years at Mary, Mother of the Church Parish in Charleroi, with the final 10 as its pastor. The alleged abuse involved another parish.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Officials identify man, woman killed in apparent Oakland murder-suicide
- LaBar: WWE not backing down from controversy
- Stat dropoff, road struggles have Penguins seeking consistency
- Rossi: In Super city, everything but football matters
- LCB, Duquesne University police recover rare bourbon in illegal sale
- Overnight snow delaying schools in western Pennsylvania
- Beloved North Side gardener gets new truck, paid for by her neighbors
- Driver leaps from sliding truck just before it topples down hillside in Fawn
- Fayette coroner’s office at scene of truck-car crash on Route 51
- Pa. Treasurer McCord resigns without explanation, to leave Feb. 12
- Kennametal plans plant closings, job cuts in fallout from oil and gas decline