Havertown Priest Accused Of Soliciting Sex In Bucks Park The Rev. Edward J. Walsh Allegedly Solicited An Undercover Ranger In A Restroom At Tyler State Park.

Posted: August 27, 1993

A Catholic priest assigned to a Havertown parish has been accused of soliciting oral sex from an undercover park ranger at Tyler State Park in Newtown Township, Bucks County.

The Rev. Edward J. Walsh, 29, associate pastor of Annunciation Blessed Virgin Mary Church, was arrested at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday after the alleged solicitation in a restroom area of the 1,041-acre park.

The Philadelphia archdiocese, after learning of Walsh's arrest under the disorderly conduct statute, launched its own investigation and removed Walsh

from his parish assignment pending the outcome of that investigation, according to Jay Devine, archdiocese spokesman.

Hank Wszola, ranger supervisor at the park, said yesterday that Walsh solicited the undercover ranger by first asking the officer to perform oral sex and then offering to perform oral sex on the officer. Wszola said Walsh was charged specifically under a part of the statute alleging that he created a physically offensive condition that serves no legitimate purpose.

He said the priest, who has served the Havertown parish for two years, appeared embarrassed when the ranger identified himself and asked Walsh to produce identification. The identification he produced, Wszola said, was a driver's license showing Walsh in his clerical collar.

Walsh was issued a citation and released. He can either plead guilty to the charge and pay a fine of $100 to $300, Wszola said, or appear for a preliminary hearing before District Justice Donald Nasshorn in Richboro.

Illegal sexual behavior has been a continuing problem at the park in recent years.

Walsh's arrest marked the 70th this year for sexual offenses, compared with 50 arrests during 1992, Wszola said.

Rangers have stepped up both uniformed and undercover patrols and are targeting sexual offenses, Wszola said.

"A few years ago, we had a drug problem here. We've just about wiped that out and have turned our attention to this problem now," Wszola said.

Walsh was among three men arrested Wednesday at the park and charged with illegal sexual acts.

Also charged with disorderly conduct after they allegedly exposed themselves were Michael James Gorman, 33, of Lambertville, N.J., and Anthony Grisan, 31, of Philadelphia.

The ranger supervisor said he wanted to make it clear that "we are not making arrests based on sexual orientation. We are making them for persons being openly lewd or solicitous."

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