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Catholic priest faces 2 more assault charges

By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 28, 2002

PINELLAS PARK -- Police have added two more charges of capital sexual battery against a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting boys during the 1980s.

The new charges filed on Tuesday against the Rev. Robert L. Schaeufele involve one victim who was abused in 1984 when he was 9 and 10 years old, Pinellas Park police said. The boy was a parishioner at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where Schaeufele was a priest.

Schaeufele, 54, now faces four capital sexual battery charges, each of which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. He is accused of assaulting two other boys in the mid-1980s when they were 11-year-olds.

Pinellas Park police Detective Kenneth Blessing said the abuse involving the latest victim occurred inside a church rectory. One of the charges includes two different assaults, he said.

The latest victim stepped forward after news of other alleged assaults hit newspapers, Blessing said.

Blessing said he does not expect any additional charges to be filed unless a new victim is found.

"We're still doing some followup work," he said. "But I don't have any new victims in the pipeline right now."

Schaeufele's defense attorney did not return a call for comment.

Schaeufele served in nine different churches during a career in the Diocese of St. Petersburg that spanned 27 years. The priest was arrested in a Detroit suburb May 31 and was extradited to Florida earlier this month.

He had been living with a niece since his resignation from a Pasco County church in April after abuse allegations.

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