HIV-positive Cleveland priest pleads guilty to soliciting sex in park

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 05, 2014 8:28 PM

(Reuters) - An HIV-positive Cleveland priest on Friday pleaded guilty to attempting to solicit sex from a ranger in a city park, according to court and police records.

James McGonegal, 69, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of soliciting after a positive HIV test and misdemeanors charges of public indecency and abusing harmful intoxicants in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, online court records showed.

Judge Stuart Friedman ordered McGonegal to participate in an early intervention program and to perform 50 hours of community service. The judge also banned McGonegal from Cleveland Metroparks property, court records said.

On Oct. 11, 2013, McGonegal solicited sex from a plain-clothed ranger in Edgewater Park, according to the police report. The ranger said McGonegal started to masturbate before he was arrested, the report said.

A bottle filled with nail polish remover, which McGonegal said he sniffed to get high, was found in his vehicle, according to the report.

McGonegal also told investigators that he was HIV-positive, leading to the felony charge, the report said.

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland said in a statement in April it had placed McGonegal on administrative leave from his post at St. Ignatius of Antioch parish on Cleveland's west-side, where he had been pastor since 1989.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Sandra Maler)