Parents Say Catholic Church Covered up Priest's Pedophilia

By Mount Clemens
United Press International
January 3, 1988

Some Macomb County parents, who claim their children were molested by a Roman Catholic priest, said the church covered up the pedophilia of the Rev. Lawrence Nawrocki following a complaint in 1980, a newspaper said Sunday.

A woman told the Macomb County Sheriff's Department that she complained to regional bishop seven years ago that Nawrocki molested her son when the youngster was a seventh grader at St. Lawrence School in Utica.

The complaint says then-Regional Bishop Arthur Kraczak talked her out of pressing criminal charges against the 42-year-old priest, who was an associate pastor at St. Lawrence since 1974.

The woman said she filed the complaint because church officials "had lied" when they denied knowing of any previous allegations against Nawrocki.

Kraczak promised Nawrocki would receive psychiatric treatment and told the woman, "Let's not ruin Father Nawrocki's career," according to the complaint.

Nawrocki was later named pastor to the adjacent St. Isadore parish, which has roughly 5,300 members.

Nawrocki second-degree criminal sexual assault charges in the alleged molestations of three young boys in separate incidents dating back to late September.

The boys, two of whom are aged 12-years-old and another who is 11, have not been identified because they are minors.

The priest might face 15 years in prison of he is convicted of the charges.

The alleged victims's parents met in mid-December and "became convinced there was a coverup," one of them told The Detroit Free Press.

The parent also said the families have contacted a lawyer and may file a lawsuit against the church.

Nawrocki was removed from his duties at St. Isadore following the charges and has declined to comment.

He is the second Catholic priest in Michigan accused of pedophilia last year.

The Rev. Terrence Healy, the former pastor of St. John's Catrholic church near Hart, pleaded no contest to molestation charges on December 11.

He could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit asserted the church does not cover up incidents of molestations.

Jay Berman, communications director for the archdiocese, said that as soon as the complainant has been identified, the regional bishop and the archbishop are alerted. They make a decision on appropriate action with 24 hours of being notified, he said.

"The archdiocese does not do anything to interfere with legal authorities," he said.

Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga said authorities are investigating two other complaints against Nawrocki alleging sexual misconduct.

The Catholic Church provides psychiatric help for priests accused of misconduct, Berman said. The Rev. Gary Berthiaume was convicted of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 14-year-old boy in 1978.

He was rehabilitated and assigned to a new parish following a prison term and therapy, Berman said.


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