|Doctor: Priest Is in Denial
Extensive History of Abuse Detailed in Court
By Christy Gutowski
Chicago Daily Herald
March 14, 2008
In the ultimate betrayal of his priesthood, Frederick Lenczycki may have molested more than two dozen boys in 25 years while serving in parishes in three states.
The allegation came to light Friday as a state-hired psychologist told a DuPage County jury the 63-year-old disgraced cleric is too dangerous to be set free.
Lenczycki was to be paroled in May 2006 after serving half of a five-year prison term for fondling three Hinsdale altar boys two decades ago. But a month before his release, prosecutors sought to have him civilly committed under a law for those deemed sexually violent.
The former Glen Ellyn man has been housed in a downstate treatment facility and has received sex-offender counseling. But as Lenczycki's civil trial opened Friday, a state expert testified the priest minimized his actions, believing that he didn't cause harm.
"I think he's beginning to face that," said Amy Phenix, a California clinical psychologist. "He just hasn't had enough treatment yet to really change this attitude."
Lenczycki was ordained in 1972. He served at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville until 1975, where three boys were allegedly inappropriately touched.
Another two dozen accusers made similar complaints in the next two decades at various churches in Romeoville, Hinsdale, California and Missouri. In all, he had 15 assignments in three states.
Prosecutors say his accusers ranged in age from 9 to 17 and were usually altar boys, students or performing community service. One Hinsdale boy grew up to become a priest. The last allegation took place in 1999.
"A man who doesn't learn from his history is doomed to repeat it," said Michael Kress, an assistant Illinois attorney general, whose office usually handles such cases. "From the day he became a priest, he has shown a pattern of actions in which he expressed sexual desires and sexual behaviors toward young athletic boys."
The 1998 sexually violent law allows authorities to force offenders to remain in custody if it is proven another crime is probable. Kress said Lenczycki is predisposed because of a pedophilic disorder.
His attorney, James Montgomery, argued Lenczycki paid his debt to society for the long-ago crimes. He noted conflicting expert opinions, and said Lenczycki has undergone voluntary treatment. He argues the chances of recidivism are small, especially given his client's age.
"What you are being asked is to look into the future," Montgomery told jurors. "No one can accurately predict the failure of human nature."
Lenczycki, dressed in a blue suit, his supportive family seated nearby, kept his head lowered much of the trial's first day.
He was sentenced to five years in prison in January 2004 after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual abuse for fondling three boys in about 1984 while at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Hinsdale.
Despite a 20-year delay, prosecutors were able to beat the statute of limitations because the diocese had transferred Lenczycki out of Illinois in 1985 after a parent's complaint of improper conduct. Prosecutors argued the clock stopped ticking when Lenczycki left Illinois.
In all, Lenczycki has admitted that he had inappropriate contact with 13 male teens in Hinsdale -- many of whom filed a 1997 lawsuit, which was settled, though the terms were not made public.
Lenczycki used three guises, including having the boys dress in revealing baby Jesus costumes or submitting to naked massages as part of a "research project," according to trial testimony.
After one of the Hinsdale boys made an outcry, former Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch transferred Lenczycki to Missouri for treatment. Authorities were not notified.
The Hinsdale charges arose again in April 2002 when the diocese, amid public pressure, released its internal records of alleged priest abuse to prosecutors. Lenczycki was placed on administrative leave and is never expected to serve at a church again. The diocese is not paying his legal bills, officials said.
The trial continues Monday before DuPage Circuit Judge Bonnie Wheaton. The proceedings are expected to end in mid-week.
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