College players again testify about Pitt player's death

Updated: October 2, 2003, 1:15 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Teammates of a Pitt football player who fell to his death at a church testified Wednesday that a Roman Catholic priest gave them alcohol and boasted that he could match them drink for drink.

Allegheny County prosecutors called five new witnesses to testify during a hearing to determine whether an involuntary manslaughter charge should be reinstated against Rev. Henry Krawczyk in the death June 18 of receiver Billy Gaines.

A deputy coroner last month dismissed the charge, ruling Gaines' death an accident and saying Krawczyk could not have predicted that the drunken player would fall through the ceiling of the church while exploring a crawl space.

Gaines, 19, a former high school star from Ijamsville, Md., died of head injuries.

The 50-year-old priest, who resigned as pastor of a suburban Pittsburgh church, was charged with reckless endangerment and furnishing alcohol to minors.

On Wednesday, one of Gaines' teammates testified that Krawczyk had 70 bottles of liquor and boasted of his drinking prowess.

"He said he could take me shot for shot," John Simonitis said.

Krawczyk's attorneys have argued that prosecutors are trying to hold the priest to a higher standard and have muddled the morality and legality of his actions. They argue that all charges against Krawczyk should be dismissed.

Allegheny County Judge Robert Gallo, who presided over the hearing, gave no indication when he would rule on the charge, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Gaines' family has filed a $75 million civil lawsuit alleging that church officials knew that Krawczyk had been accused several times of giving alcohol to minors, but was not disciplined and remained in a position of contact with young people.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index