Former Delaware County pastor sentenced for 1980 sexual assaultsChristine Kuhn would not give up. From the time she was 13, she told friends, church leaders, neighbors and therapists how her minister had sexually assaulted her.
"Like a dog with a bone, I was not going to let go," Kuhn said. She always hoped someone would listen and take action.
It took more than 30 years.
Yesterday, Gerald L. Klever, 76, of Tucson, Ariz., was sentenced in Delaware County Court to 10 years' probation, one year of house arrest, 1,000 hours of community service, and restitution of $25,000. In May, he had pleaded no contest to rape and guilty to sexual assault involving Kuhn and another woman, both now in their 40s.
The crimes happened in 1980, when he was an assistant pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Delaware County.
Kuhn, of Media, might never have had her day in court if not for a twist in the law, allowing Klever to be prosecuted for acts committed between 1980 and 1983, when he moved out of state.
The abuse began when Klever asked Kuhn, then 13, to lunch, she said. He bought her a Burger King meal, took her to his church office, and made her perform oral sex.
"I was humiliated, embarrassed and very uncomfortable," Kuhn said. Klever, she recalled, threatened to falsely tell her mother that she was using drugs to keep her from going to her parents.
When she did tell others, she was dissuaded from taking it further.
"FIDO - forget it and drive on," Kuhn recalled one church member telling her.
In 1988, a retiring pastor told Kuhn that she was not the only person to complain about Klever. Two years ago, Kuhn approached the Rev. Byron Leasure, a new interim pastor at the church.
He then sent letters to congregants asking any with complaints against Klever to step forward. At least a dozen women responded, but only four agreed to talk to police. Of the 15 charges brought against him, Klever pleaded to two counts.
Klever, who walks with a cane, has significant health issues, including early-onset Parkinson's disease, heart disease, vascular disease and prostate cancer. His health was one of the factors taken into consideration during the plea negotiations, according to the District Attorney's Office.
On Sunday during a chance encounter, Pat Circolo, a former babysitter who alleges that Klever took off his clothes in front of her more than 30 years ago, said she saw the former pastor walking briskly in Center City on his way to church.
Yesterday, attorneys for Kuhn and Circolo met with Judge James F. Nilon Jr. to discuss Klever's health before the sentence was imposed.
Klever's attorney, Theodore Simon, said his client was admitted to Jefferson University Hospital the previous week for an "emergency" problem with his heart.
Nilon made a point of telling Klever, who as a condition of probation must undergo polygraph tests, that he could be asked questions about his health.
"If you fail polygraph or violate probation, you go back before the court," Nilon said.
Kuhn, who is a recovering alcoholic, said she felt as if her story has finally been heard and she has to believe Klever is "remorseful" for what he has done to her and others.
She said she planned to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting last night and tell her story.
"I'm going to tell them there are miracles out there," she said. "Don't quit before the miracles happen."