Former L.A. Priest Battles Extradition

By Art Barnum
Chicago Tribune
December 4, 2002

A suspended Los Angeles Catholic priest who retired this year to Darien told a DuPage County judge Tuesday he is fighting extradition to California, where he faces charges of sexually abusing a young girl nearly 40 years ago.

Rev. Matthew Michael Sprouffske, 75, who moved this year to Carmelite Carefree Village, a retirement community, told Judge Robert Anderson that he would not waive extradition back to California.

Sprouffske's local attorney, Joseph Laraia, filed a writ of habeas corpus, a legal document seeking his release from local charges of being a fugitive from justice.

Darien police arrested Sprouffske last week after they were notified by Los Angeles authorities that he had been charged on Nov. 22 with four counts of lewd acts upon a child.

DuPage County Assistant State's Atty. Steven Knight said the woman was younger than 14 at the time of the alleged sexual abuse. She reported to police this year that she was abused between 1955 and 1959 when Sprouffske was assigned to Mt. Carmel High School in Los Angeles.

Knight said a Los Angeles County judge has set bond for Sprouffske at $200,000.

Darien police have charged Sprouffske with being a fugitive from justice, a charge frequently used on people sought in other states. He is free on $10,000 bail.

Anderson set the next court date for Jan. 27.

Sprouffske was a member of the Carmelite Order and was suspended this year.

Police agencies in the Los Angeles archdiocese are investigating more than 70 former and current priests.

In November, DuPage County State's Atty. Joseph Birkett announced that his staff had completed an investigation into 29 priests who served in DuPage County in the past 30 years, resulting in the indictment of Rev. Fred Lenczycki.

Lenczycki is a suspended Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing three 12-year-old boys in 1984 at St. Isaac Jogues Church School in Hindsale, where he was assigned.


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