A suburban Cleveland man accused of sexually assaulting nine disabled boys told a judge Wednesday that his apartment was a religious sanctuary where smoking marijuana and having sex with children are sacred rituals protected by civil rights laws.
He told the judge, "I'm a pedophile. I've been a pedophile for 20 years. The only reason I'm charged with rape is that no one believes a child can consent to sex. The role of my ministry is to get these cases out of the courtrooms."
Distasio, a self-professed pagan friar, is representing himself on 74 charges. He said he's the leader of a church called Arcadian Fields Ministries, and that some of his congregants are among the victims in his case.
Distasio was arrested on charges he molested two disabled boys he was tutoring at his home. He's also accused of raping seven other autistic children at a Cleveland school for special-needs students, The Plain Dealer reported. All but one of the boys was under 13, which carries a mandatory life-in-prison sentence if he is convicted, the paper reported.
See also The Guns and Dope Party.