By Shelley Grieshop
A former Coldwater priest pleaded no contest Thursday to engaging in illegal sexual activity with two men in a Dayton-area public park in October.
The Rev. Clarence Heis, 52, offered the plea to charges of public indecency and resisting arrest during the morning hearing in Fairborn Municipal Court. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered; a sentencing date has not yet been set.
Heis, a former associate pastor at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Coldwater from 1992-1993, faces a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
At the time of his arrest, Heis was the senior pastor of St. Michael parish in Mechanicsburg and Immaculate Conception parish in North Lewisburg. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati immediately placed Heis on indefinite administrative leave following the filing of charges. A call to the archdiocese to confirm Heis' current status with the church was not returned at press time today.
Indefinite administrative leave prohibits Heis from celebrating any sacraments, engaging in any priestly ministry or presenting himself as a priest in any way. According to the Five Rivers MetroParks Ranger Division, Heis and two Beavercreek-area males, ages 34 and 51, were having a discussion near the bank of the river when an undercover ranger made their acquaintance. A short time later, the ranger witnessed the three engaging in sexual activity, the report said.
Two undercover rangers then introduced themselves as law enforcement officers and attempted to arrest the trio as Heis fled the scene. After a brief search, Heis was arrested while walking southbound along Route 4.
Heis was ordained a Catholic priest in 1982. During his assignment at the Coldwater parish, he served with the former senior pastor Keith Albrecht who was defrocked by the church last year for similar deviant behavior. Albrecht, who reportedly now lives in the Cincinnati area, served at the local church from 1987-1993.