Sagianw Diocese Deals with Sex Abuse Allegation

April 10, 2006

SAGINAW (WJRT) - (04/10/06)-- New information has come to light today on the sex abuse allegations that have stunned a local Roman Catholic Church.

A Zilwaukee priest, Father Richard Szafranski, is on leave after being accused by a woman of sexual misconduct.

The victim says it happened nearly 30 years ago.

The Saginaw Catholic Diocese held a news conference earlier this morning.

Bishop Robert Carlson released very little this morning. It is still uncertain how the priest met the young woman who was 16 or 17 at the time. Father Szafranski apparently was 27-years-old., but it's not been made clear if he was ordained then.

The bishop didn't know where, or how many times this inappropriate relationship happened.

Szafranski has served in mid-Michigan for decades and has served as a priest at Saint Matthew Church in Zilwaukee since 1999.

The diocese did not release much information about Szafranski, other than to say he is in a "safe place."

Little information was released about the accuser, except that the woman told a personal counselor of the relationship and the counselor contacted the church late last month.

Carlson says the negative news is a bigger problem for society than just the church. "I think it says a lot more about the society. Sexual abuse is rampant in our society. One of the things I'm proud of is that the church, because of the crisis, has stood up and is doing something about it. But I think you'll find that sexual abuse is something which is in every facet of our society, and hopefully, we'll deal with it."

In a written statement, Szafranski gave some explanation about the matter.

"It is very hard for me to write this to you. About thirty years ago I was involved in a relationship that I should not have been. It was wrong of me, and in the end, turned out to be painful for her."

The Saginaw County prosecutor's office is investigating the case. No charges have been filed.


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