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LANDSTUHL, Germany — A retired Air Force chaplain who works at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center arranged for a mother and daughter to flee Germany in 2006 after German courts ruled that the mother must give up custody of her child, according to a U.S. police investigator.

The Rev. Clement Marcantonio, a Catholic priest who says Mass at the Landstuhl chapel, also helped find places for Gail Mulczynski and daughter Megan to hide out while they were on the run, according to Spokane, Wash., police detective Ben Estes.

“We’ve got it confirmed here that [Marcantonio] was arranging places for them to stay,” Estes said on the phone Tuesday.

“Father Marcantonio was involved in helping them leave Germany and helped them here by perpetuating the situations with his contacts here in Spokane,” Estes wrote in an e-mail.

On Wednesday, Marcantonio repeatedly denied helping the pair leave Germany, sending them money or setting up places for them to stay in Spokane.

“I have nothing to do with that,” said Marcantonio, who works as a counselor at Landstuhl’s addiction treatment facility.

Even if Marcantonio did assist the pair, he will not face criminal charges in Germany, said Manfred Grass, a criminal detective with the Kaiserslautern police department.

“It’s not illegal to help somebody,” Grass said. “We looked in our books and computers and there’s nothing illegal with what he did if he helped them.”

Had Marcantonio been in the U.S., “he would be charged with kidnapping and all the complicity charges that accompany what he did to continue being involved in that conspiracy to keep Tom Mulczynski from the legal rights to have custody of his daughter,” Estes wrote.

Late last month, Gail Mulczynski was arrested in Spokane on a felony charge of custodial interference after a hospital guard recognized the mother and daughter from a missing-persons flier. The mother and daughter fled Germany in July 2006, relocated to Spokane and were using false names.

The saga surrounds the custody battle for Megan after Tom and Gail Mulczynski separated in late 2003. The matter was handled in German courts because it was a civil case and all parties lived in Germany when the legal proceedings began. Allegations were made that Tom Mulczynski, a former civilian employee at Ramstein Air Base who now works at the Pentagon, abused his daughter, and Gail Mulczynski was mentally unstable. Investigators cleared Tom Mulczynski of the abuse allegations.

The mother and daughter went missing after a July 14, 2006, German district court ruling that gave the Jugendamt — the German youth welfare services — the authority to gain custody of Megan. A day earlier, a higher German court ruling upheld a 2004 lower court decision that granted Tom Mulczynski custody of Megan. As the plan stood at the time, the father would gain custody of his daughter from the Jugendamt.

In November 2006, someone who knew the mother and daughter when they lived in Germany spotted the pair in Spokane at an annual church leaf-raking event. Tom Mulczynski traveled to Spokane this November for the 2007 event, and while in the city distributed fliers with pictures of his daughter and ex-wife.

On Nov. 23, a security guard at a Spokane hospital spotted the mother and daughter, and Gail Mulczynski was subsequently arrested. She was released from the Spokane County Jail last week after prosecutors failed to file formal charges against her within 72 hours of her arrest.

Megan, 13, told Estes in an interview that Marcantonio assisted them when they fled Germany in July 2006 and tried to send them money during their time on the run.

The priest did say he had a pastoral relationship with the mother and daughter but that it was confidential. In addition to serving as her priest, Marcantonio counseled Gail Mulczynski for almost four years. She previously had been diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Once the mother and daughter disappeared, German police searched their apartment and Marcantonio’s residence in the summer of 2006.

Last month, a Spokane court recognized the validity of the German court’s ruling, and Megan was placed in her father’s custody. Currently, she is receiving treatment at an inpatient child psychiatry facility.

“She’s fearful,” Tom Mulczynski said. “She doesn’t know what’s going on. She’s still severely alienated and not talking to me, but we’re getting her help she needs.”

Estes said that Gail Mulczynski still will be charged with a crime and could face additional charges of misrepresentation and forgery stemming from her use of a false name.


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