|Priest Who Abused Boys Allowed to Leave Treatment Center
By Dan Rozek
July 9, 2009
A Roman Catholic priest who has completed a prison term for fondling young boys should no longer be confined to a locked state center for treatment, a DuPage County judge ruled today.
The decision means the Rev. Fred Lenczycki -- who was sent to prison in 2004 for sexually abusing three young boys in Hinsdale -- could be released by late September from the secure state treatment center where he has been confined for more than three years.
Lenczycki, now 65, was transferred to the treatment center in downstate Rushville after completing the prison term imposed on him for molesting the boys in the 1980s at St. Isaac Jogues School in Hinsdale.
Lencyzcki, who has admitted fondling at least 30 boys in the Chicago area, Missouri and California while he served as a priest, was legally declared a sexually violent person last year by a DuPage County. He's believed to be the first Catholic priest in the U.S. to be tagged with such a legal designation.
But Judge Bonnie Wheaton ruled this afternoon that Lenczycki can be released from the locked treatment center, while he continues to undergo outpatient treatment and counseling.
Wheaton, though, said Lenczycki will be closely monitored as she ordered attorneys on both sides to draft a strict set of regulations that Lenczycki must follow once he is released from custody.
"I want to assure the community his movements, his actions, every aspect of his life and his behavior, will be regulated to the fullest extent while he's on conditional release," Wheaton said.
She ordered that Lenczycki remain in custody for at least 60 days until such a plan -- which she must approve -- can be drafted.
Lenczycki showed no reaction as Wheaton made her ruling, but one of his attorneys said he was pleased by the decision.
"He's very relieved, of course," said Marion Cruz, one of Lenczycki's attorneys. "His family is relieved as well."
A handful of protesters who held a vigil Thursday outside the Wheaton courthouse calling for Lenczycki to remain in custody expressed disappointment with the judge's ruling.
"I think it's a really sad day for all the children in Illinois, especially those who will be living near Lenczycki," said Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
It's not clear yet where Lenczycki will live once he has been released from custody, though a sister in Wheaton has offered to let him live with her.
Lenczycki hasn't been formally defrocked, but has been ordered by church officials not to say mass or wear his vestments.
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