AUSTIN (KXAN) — An elderly Austin Catholic priest accused of touching a woman in hospice care in a sexual manner accepted a plea deal Wednesday in what was supposed to be his pre-court appearance.
Rev. Gerold Langsch, 75, faced a Class A misdemeanor assault by contact charge. Langsch pleaded no contest Wednesday. A no contest plea effectively does not admit guilt but allows the court to determine punishment.
Langsch was accused of going to the victim’s home in October 2018 to administer her last rites, according to documents filed in court. The woman was in hospice care because she was suffering from several medical conditions, including complications with diabetes.
According to the arrest affidavit, while Langsch was anointing the victim with holy water during her last rites he began touching her inappropriately and asked, “does that feel good?”
The victim’s family immediately reported it to police and in March 2019, she was presented with a photo lineup, during which she identified Langsch as the man who assaulted her, according to the affidavit.
Austin police say assault by contact is typically classified as a Class C misdemeanor. However, this case was upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor because the victim was disabled.
In court Wednesday, Langsch was addressed by a member of the victim’s family.
“You are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” the person said. “We will never trust another father or the Catholic Church again.”
Langsch was sentenced to 300 days probation probated over two years, as well as a $1,000 fine. If he violates the probation, he could spend up to 300 days in jail and be penalized with a $4,000 fine.
Since the allegations in 2018, three other victims have come forward, according to the judge in Langsch’s case. She added that all the victim’s approved of the agreement and Langsch’s sentencing. The Catholic Church has an official record of all the allegations.
The judge ordered Langsch to have no contact with anyone in the victim’s family and is no longer allowed to work as a minister in the Catholic church or perform last rites ever again in the U.S.
The Diocese of Austin said Wednesday that Langsch belongs to the Schoenstatt Fathers religious order and that his “faculties to engage in priestly ministry in Austin were removed in February” and that it believes the Schoenstatt Fathers also suspended his faculties.
“He will not be authorized to engage in ministry in the Diocese of Austin,” it wrote in a statement.