74-Year-Old Priest Sentenced To 210 Years For Sex Assault

Shissler Is Former Episcopalian Priest, Foster Parent

A 74-year-old former Episcopal priest convicted of sexually assaulting three boys was sentenced to 210 years in prison Monday.

Donald Shissler was found guilty of 15 counts, including assault on a child and sexual exploitation of a child. He met the victims after he retired from the clergy and after his foster parent license was revoked.

A jury took three hours to convict him last week. A judge handed down the sentence Monday.

Denver District Judge Martin Egelhoff called the victims heroes for coming forward, for enduring a lengthy criminal justice process and for having the courage to testify in court about the abuse they suffered. He called it a tragedy that Shissler still did not think he had done anything wrong and said that this was the worst, most prolific and aggravated case of sexual assault on children he'd ever seen.

In arguing for a lengthy sentence, prosecutors asked for a maximum sentence that would give the victims a sense of justice and ensure that Shissler never assaults another child.

Prosecutors said Shissler had turned his home into a virtual Disneyland to entice boys. He kept drawers full of candy, and had computer games, a pool table and a hot tub in his home.

"This Disneyland he created came at a high price. The cost of admission was their innocence and a sense of shame that would last a lifetime," prosecutor Kerri Lombardi said. "They were mostly young Hispanic boys who were just on the cusp of their sexuality."

Authorities said that once Shissler got the boys inside his house, he would parade around nude or in thong underwear, and would instruct the boys to take off their clothes.

He also engaged in sexual acts with some of the boys.

"It's natural. It's not a sin," Lombardi said Shissler told the boys.

He said that despite telling the boys that what went on in his house was normal, he also told the boys to keep it a secret.

The assaults occurred between 1997 and 2002.

Shissler had pleaded guilty in 2005 to two counts of sexual assault and was sentenced to 24 years to life in prison. That was overturned by an appeals court, and a trial was ordered.

Police said they seized hundreds of pornographic pictures and videos from Shissler's house when he was arrested in 2002.

Shissler was an Episcopalian priest for two years, last serving in Aspen in 1963. He was also a Denver teacher at North High School from 1984 to 1994 and a foster parent in the 1980s.