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Saturday, June 02, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor charged with rape and more

When Gerald Klever, then a pastor at First Presbyterian Church, allegedly forced a teenage girl to perform oral sex on him in his church office, he didn't have to use physical force, one of his accusers testified yesterday.

Klever simply told the girl he knew about her family's "deep, dark secret" - her father was a transvestite - and he would tell the world if she didn't comply with his demands for sexual favors, she said.

He went on to rape that girl and at least one other by invoking the name of God while serving as a pastor at the church in Springfield, Delaware County, authorities allege.

After a hearing before Magisterial District Judge Anthony Scanlon, Klever, 75, was held for trial yesterday on three counts of rape, three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related charges for acts that occurred more than 25 years ago.

He is to be arraigned later this month in Media, where he will plead not guilty to all charges, said his Philadelphia attorney Theodore Simon.

"It is a frightening prospect and dangerous precedent for any person or organization to be forced to defend themselves against allegations dating more than a quarter of a century ago," Simon said. Sheldon Kovach, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, argued that the clock on Pennsylvania's statute of limitations stopped ticking when Klever left the state in 1983.

Both sides agreed that, under the statute of limitations, Klever cannot be prosecuted for acts that occurred prior to July 12, 1980.

That makes him immune from some of the allegations, including those brought by other women.

Klever left First Presbyterian in 1983 and moved with his wife to Maryland to become the pastor of Sixth Presbyterian Church, in Washington, D.C.

He resigned that post in 1988 "after several accusations of sexual misconduct were made against him," that church's current pastor previously told the Daily News.

Those allegations - which involved adults, not minors - did not surface at yesterday's hearing.

Klever's ordination credentials were revoked in 1993. He lives in Tucson, Ariz.

A second woman testified yesterday that Klever raped her during a pool party in the summer of 1980, when she was 16 years old. At a church retreat the next year, the woman said, he tied her to a bed and did it again.

"A couple times I tried to yell out and he smacked me," she said, adding, "I just shut up because I didn't want to be hit anymore."

Both women said the sex was involuntary.

Klever, who appeared frail yesterday with a shaky right hand, is out on bail and is free to return to Arizona while awaiting formal arraignment. He declined to comment when he left court.