Skip to comments.Archdiocese: Priest still on leave [Only Vatican can defrock Fr Whipkey, the naked jogging priest]
Posted on 06/14/2008 6:10:54 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
Although the Vatican is the only entity with power to take away a priest's title, a former Catholic leader of parishes in Erie, Mead and Frederick won't lead any more Masses after being convicted this week for jogging nude in public, church officials said.
Robert Whipkey, 53, was placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Denver in August after he was arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure for jogging nude around a high school track in the town of Frederick early one morning last summer.
A Frederick police officer saw a naked Whipkey walking home from the high school about 4:35 a.m. June 22, and Whipkey eventually admitted to the officer that he runs nude because he "sweats profusely."
Whipkey was convicted by a seven-person jury Thursday of indecent exposure -- a charge that could come with a penalty of 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. He also might have to register as a sex offender, which would require him to live away from churches and schools.
Whipkey's defense attorney, Harvey Steinberg, said in court Thursday that allegations against his client aren't sexual in nature. Both Whipkey and Steinberg declined to comment about the case or the jury's decision.
Jeanette DeMelo, spokeswoman for Denver's Archdiocese, said Friday that Whipkey will remain on leave from his former parishes -- including St. Scholastica church in Erie. That means he's stripped of his duties, such as his ability to lead Mass, officiate weddings and funerals, and counsel parishioners.
"He cannot function as a priest or minister," DeMelo said. "But he's still a priest because only the Vatican can take away that title."
Denver's Archdiocese investigated Whipkey nine years ago for "inappropriate personal behavior" when he was pastor of St. Anthony's parish in Sterling.In that case, Sterling police said they looked into reports that 11-year-old boys had seen Whipkey naked at a summer camp. But the boys didn't make formal complaints, and no charges were filed.
During Whipkey's trial Thursday, a woman testified that she had seen the priest naked about 20 years ago at a camp site. The woman said she confronted Whipkey, and he essentially told her to deal with it.
Following the investigation in Sterling, Whipkey began therapy for unspecified "personal issues," but medical health professionals determined he wasn't a danger to others and shouldn't be removed from the ministry.
"But he's still a priest because only the Vatican can take away that title."
Right on cue.
Beg your pardon? Do you have something to say?
On the contrary, the good father appears to be quite capable of defrocking himself.
Apparently......that's not all. Ahem.
Neither is poor spelling.