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  Priest Deported

By Elisabeth Strillacci
The Herald [New Britain CT]
October 25, 2005

NEW BRITAIN -- A visiting Roman Catholic priest who plead guilty to the sexual assault of a 17-year-old high school student during a counseling session has completed his nine-month prison term and been sent back to Poland in accordance with his court sentence.

Roman Kramek, 43, came to Sacred Heart Church to help with Christmas services during the winter of 2002. While here, he was called upon to counsel his victim about a previous sexual assault.

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On December 18, 2002, Kramek went to the victim's grandmother's home to meet with her, and during the meeting inappropriately touched the victim, then assaulted her while her grandmother was out of the room, authorities said.

Kramek, said State's Attorney Scott Murphy, told the victim that he had sex with her as a "counseling technique" to show her that "sex with a man can be pleasurable." In Connecticut, it is illegal for anyone acting as a psychotherapist, including a priest, to engage in sex with anyone they are counseling.

Kramek spoke little if any English at the time of his arrest, and many of his supporters believe he did not understand the seriousness of his confessions to police, in which he admitted to having sex with the victim.

Following his arrest on Christmas Eve, 2002, a large contingent of the city's Polish community formed an organization to raise and oversee a defense fund for Kramek. The organization paid his bond for release during his trial and raised questions about the legitimacy of the victim's complaint. That tactic brought condemnations from other religious and civic organizations, including SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Kramek eventually plead guilty to second-degree sexual assault in a plea agreement that ended his trial and left him with a nine-month sentence and 10 years of probation, plus the understanding that upon his release from jail he would have to return to Poland because he was a non-citizen convicted of a felony.

Father John Gatzak, spokesman for the Hartford Archdiocese, has previously said that because Kramek is a member of the Archdiocese of Warsaw there has been little the local diocese can do.

"Officials in Poland will only be able to determine Kramek's future with the church," Gatzak said in January 2003. At that time, Gatzak said he did not know what church authorities in Poland would do, and calls to Gatzak today were not returned.

It was also unclear if the archdiocese's policy on allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors would apply in Kramek's case. It would appear that the Archbishop of Hartford could choose to forward information indicating the threat Kramek may pose to children or young people, but no one at the archdiocese would say if that will happen.

Kramek was released from MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield on Monday, taken to Hartford and turned over to officials from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services before being deported to Poland.

The victim in the case, meanwhile, has said publicly that she has yet to recover from the assault, though in a statement in court before Kramek was sentenced she said she forgave the priest in spite of the damage to her physically, emotionally and spiritually.

 
 

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