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Priest May Not Testify Vs. Attacker

May 9, 2000

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) _ A Roman Catholic priest who was stabbed after hearing a confession has identified his attacker but is reluctant to testify against him.

The Rev. Charles Mentrup, 41, was stabbed in the abdomen at his home Friday after hearing the confession. He was in good condition Monday at Middletown Regional Hospital.

Mentrip identified the attacker on Friday, leading to an arrest warrant for Marcus A. Finefrock.

Finefrock, 25 of Columbus, turned himself in and pleaded innocent Monday to one charge of felonious assault. He was released on $25,000 cash bond posted by his father. He faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.

``Father Chuck told our detectives that Finefrock was the person who had stabbed him,″ Chief Bill Becker said.

Finefrock has no criminal record, is a recent law school graduate and expects to be acquitted, defense lawyer Clyde Bennett II said.

The priest is reluctant to help with the prosecution because of the seal of secrecy involving confession, Becker said. Detectives are consulting with prosecutors about how to proceed if the priest doesn’t cooperate.

``It would be very, very difficult to prosecute a case without somebody telling us what happened,″ the chief said at a news conference.

Priests are forbidden from revealing details of a confession.

With no witnesses to the attack, Mentrup will have to decide how much he can tell police.

``It is a matter of judgment right now because he’s the one who was there and knows what happened,″ said Dan Andriacco, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

Mentrup is principal of Fenwick High School, which is operated by the archdiocese, and is an associate pastor of the Church of the Incarnation in the Dayton suburb of Centerville.

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