By Christopher Wink
The man who posed as a priest to comfort the family of a Philadelphia police officer seriously injured in a car crash last month is from the Northeast.
NEast Philly hasn’t yet independently confirmed what neighborhood he calls home, but Paul Schlear, 26, dressed as and referred to himself as a local Catholic priest to enter the intensive-care unit at the Torresdale campus of the old Frankford hospital to visit the family of Officer Richard Hayes, as reported by CBS3.
“I feel terrible for the Hayes family because they’re going through enough and I didn’t nee to do what I did,” he told CBS3.
Schlear, who was found to have also posed as a priest at past officer funerals, was discovered when another cop thought Schlear looked too young to be a priest and ran a background check. He appeared in the funeral procession of Sgt. Patrick McDonald in September and Officer John Pawlowski in February, as the Inquirer reported.
“Our prayers and concern go out for Officer Hayes and his family at this time,” a statement from the Archdiocese read. “It is tragic to think that someone would present himself as a member of the clergy, violating the sacred trust that a family places in a priest at a time of crisis.”
Both media outlets report that the hospital impersonation was being investigated by Northeast Detectives, but what charges Schlear may face will be decided by the District Attorney’s Office.
The officer Hayes, 28, is still in the hospital. He suffered a severe head injury June 28 when a car he and another officer had stopped on suspicion of drag racing in Bridesburg was hit by an SUV driven by an allegedly drunk Bucks County man.