Priest Faces Four Counts in Sex Assault of Child
Man Who Left Wisconsin Years Ago Arrested in New Jersey
By Tom Heinen firstname.lastname@example.org and John Diedrich
Journal Sentinel Online
June 4, 2004
A 62-year-old priest who left Wisconsin years ago has been arrested outside his rectory in New Jersey and charged with sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy in Milwaukee between the summer of 1990 and mid-1991.
Two detectives from the Milwaukee Police Department were waiting for Father Simon Palathingal, of South Amboy, N.J., as he returned Thursday night from a flight elsewhere in the United States, Sensitive Crimes Unit Lt. Mark Ciske said Friday.
Arrested under a warrant and criminal complaint that were signed Tuesday in Milwaukee County, Palathingal faces four counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child.
The district attorney's office is seeking a $1 million cash bail and surrender of Palathingal's passport, but he has not made an initial appearance on the charges, Ciske said. Palathingal will face an extradition hearing in New Jersey, Ciske said.
Authorities reportedly had been concerned that the priest might flee the country if he got wind of his impending arrest.
News of the arrest came as a relief to his alleged victim, Nick Janovsky, 23, who now lives near Tampa, Fla.
"It's bittersweet," Janovsky said. "Thank God that I was finally able to stop this guy. But who knows how many other lives he stole."
Janovsky said that Palathingal sent letters from India and apparently lived there immediately after leaving Wisconsin. The criminal complaint states that the priest left the state in the latter half of 1991 and lived in several states between 1993 and 2004.
Because Palathingal left the state, the normal statute of limitations, or time-period in which charges must be filed, does not apply.
Palathingal apparently is not a diocesan priest, though it was unclear Friday what religious order he belongs to.
According to the criminal complaint, Janovsky was sexually assaulted many times while visiting Palathingal at the priest's residence at the time, Jordan House, 4040 N. 66th St. Janovsky said that Palathingal was living in Milwaukee while studying for a master's degree at a university.
That is the same building where Father Dennis Pecore, a Society of the Divine Savior priest who was convicted twice of sexual assault of a minor, served as coordinator for elderly priests and brothers living there.
Pecore, who was working at nearby Mother of Good Counsel Church, was convicted in 1987 of second-degree sexual assault for having sexual relations with a 15-year-old boy in 1984 and 1985. He was given one year of jail time, placed on probation for five years and ordered not to have unsupervised contact with young males.
However, Pecore was charged and convicted in 1994 of two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child for molesting a teenage boy from 1989 through 1992, while he was on probation.
That boy was Janovsky, according to the Florida man and Jim Smith, the Brookfield attorney who is representing him. What's more, Janovsky is Pecore's nephew, they said this week.
Janovsky said in an interview that Pecore introduced him to Palathingal when the two priests were living at Jordan House. At the time, Pecore was sexually abusing Janovsky. Palathingal soon began abusing Janovsky also, apparently without Pecore's knowledge, Janovsky said.
"And the great tragedy is that this crime could and should have been prevented by the archdiocese," Smith said. "They had been warned repeatedly by a Mother of Good Counsel parishioner that an already-convicted Pecore was violating the terms of his probation by having boys at his Salvatorian House residence."
Archdiocesan officials could not be reached Friday.
Pecore was sentenced to 12 years in prison for molesting Janovsky, followed by 10 years of probation. He is now out on parole.
Janovsky said that civil authorities were told at the time about Palathingal's alleged sexual assaults. Because Janovsky's parents moved to Florida from West Bend about 1993 or 1994, and because he was only a young teenager, he did not realize until about six months ago that Palathingal had never been charged, he said. That's when he began contactingauthorities in Wisconsin.
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