HONESDALE – An imprisoned former Roman Catholic priest who is up for parole this year should remain in jail until he serves the maximum sentence of 18 years, victims advocates believe.
Steven J. Wolpert, 63, was sentenced in 2008 to nine to 18 years in state prison after pleading guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child younger than 13.
The defendant, who served as a priest in Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged after he abused the 8-year-old boy in Hawley between 2006 and 2007.
The prospect of the sex offender serving only have his sentence does not sit well with Michele Minor Wolf, executive director of Honesdale-based Victims' Intervention Program.
“Can he take away half of the crime, half of the pain and suffering? No, he cannot,” Wolf said. “He and all offenders should spent every day, every minute of their term incarcerated.
She added, “The victims do not just suffer for a 'term.' A victim’s pain and suffering does not end early due to 'good behavior.' Sex offense crimes affect the victims for the rest of their lives.”
Wolf noted how victims do heal and become survivors, but their lives are forever changed.
The St. Louis, Mo.-based Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests (SNAP) is another organization hoping Wolpert remains imprisoned.
“Kids will be safest if Wolpert serves his entire sentence of 18 years behind bars,” SNAP director David Clohessy said in a statement.
Wolpert told authorities in 2008 he allowed kids to sleep naked with him because they were “curious and (he) didn't want to stifle the child's sexuality.”
Clohessy's statement said, “We fear he has more victims, so we urge anyone who may have knowledge of or suspicions about him to find the courage to come forward and contact law enforcement no matter how long ago it happened,”
Wolpert is scheduled to meet with the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole in September to determine if he will be paroled, said board spokeswoman Maria Finn.
The defendant was never a priest in the Diocese of Scranton. He served in Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, N.Y., and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn before retiring in 2008.
He has been incarcerated at the state prison at Camp Hill.