Ex-Priest Who Served 9 Years for Molesting Altar Boy in Flushing Now Free and Living in New Mexico
By David Harris
January 10, 2014
FLUSHING, MI – An ex-priest convicted of molesting boys at Flushing's St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in the 1970s is free and living in New Mexico, according to the New Mexico sex offender database.
His release with six years to go on his maximum sentence has upset the mother of a former St. Robert altar boy, as well as the former prosecutor who put him behind bars.
Jason E. Sigler, 75, was sentenced to seven- to 15-years in prison after pleading guilty in Genesee Circuit Court to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2003 for molesting Anthony Otero in the mid-1970s.
Sigler also pleaded no contest to molesting Otero's brother. Sigler was released in May 2012 after serving 9 years of his term, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Arthur Busch, the Genesee County prosecutor at the time, called Sigler "the worst of the worst."
"My feelings are given the nature of these offenses, lack of remorse and decades of this behavior, I doubt he's rehabilitated," Busch said Friday, Jan. 10. "I can't think of any reason why he would be released with (six) years left (on the maximum term)."
Sigler was on probation for more than a year and was released Nov. 29, 2013, according to a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman.
MDOC spokesman Russ Marlan said Sigler had earned credits for good behavior while in prison and said the state was obligated to release him from parole in November.
Marlan said Sigler spent his parole living with relatives in Atlanta, MI, a small community near Alpena.
Sigler registered as a sex offender in Albuquerqe, NM, on Dec. 9, 2013.
A message for Sigler was left at a phone number associated with the Albuquerqe address where Sigler registered as a sex offender.
Lillian Antos of Mt. Morris Township, whose son also claimed he was molested by Sigler, said she was unhappy with Sigler's release.
"We didn't care if he rotted in there after what he did," said Antos.
Antos said she and her husband John, who died in November 2012, wrote letters to the parole board in 2010 urging the Michigan Department of Corrections not to release him early. They and other victim families spoke to state legislators and other groups urging them to remove the statute of limitations on such crimes.
Her son continues to have problems stemming from the alleged molestation, she said. Patrick Antos spent time in prison in Utah for an armed robbery to support a drug habit.
Antos and Otero were altar boys at St. Robert in 1974, where Sigler served eight months before moving to New Mexico in 1975. He left the church in the 1980s.
Sigler's case was the subject of a story on CBS' "60 Minutes" news program. He also was sent to jail for a year for molesting two Detroit boys before facing charges here. In addition, he pleaded guilty to a sex charge in New Mexico, where he has admitted sexually abusing at least 17 boys in the 1970s and 1980s.
The New Mexico cases led to $13 million paid to victims and their families in civil lawsuits.
At his 2003 sentencing, Sigler told a Genesee Circuit judge asked for mercy and forgiveness. He also said he had sought counseling and that he had been "healed of my illness" two decades prior.
The lead Flushing detective on the case, Hal Telling, said he also thinks Sigler should have served the maximum possible years in prison.
"He certainly was a predator," said Telling. "Anyone that preys on helpless victims and continues to, it's a really bad situation."
A representative from St. Robert could not be reached for comment.
The Diocese of Lansing has said it is horrified by Sigler's actions and in 2010 opposed his request for parole.
Friday, Diocese spokesman Michael Diebold declined comment other than to say any priest who would harm a child "deserves to answer for those crimes."
He also urged any victims to come forward.