Priest removed for sex abuse works with teens at pregnancy center
By Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press
May 08, 2016
|Stock photo of a priest's collar.|
A Catholic priest removed from churches in metro Detroit after he was accused of sexually abusing a teenager is now the development director of a new Catholic center in Eastpointe that counsels pregnant teenagers, prompting calls for him to step down.
The Rev. Kenneth Kaucheck, 62, was banned from public ministry by the Archdiocese of Detroit in 2009 after church officials determined he had sexual misconduct in the 1970s with a 16-year-old girl he was counseling as a priest.
Kaucheck is now a director at the Gianna House Pregnancy and Parenting Residence, next to St. Veronica Catholic Church in Eastpointe. Opened last year in a former convent, the center takes in teenagers and young women who are pregnant, assisting them and any children they might later have.
The website for Gianna House says it "is a scared sanctuary for its residents, each of whom deserve to continue the life of her unborn child in an environment imbued with spiritual grace, emotional and social support, and knowledge." The website says its "Board has been selected by Father Ken Kaucheck and Sister Mary Diane Masson to provide a wide range of ideas and skills."
The archdiocese and advocates for children who are abused by priests are calling for Gianna House to remove Kaucheck.
Joe Kohn, director of public relations for the Archdiocese of Detroit, told the Free Press last week that Kaucheck's "position at Gianna House violates the restrictions placed on his ministry in 2009. We assert that he should not be allowed to continue in this position."
Kohn said that Kaucheck could be removed under Catholic canon law.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said in a statement last month that it's disconcerting that "a priest who was ousted because he molested a girl now works for a nonprofit that reportedly helps girls."
"It's inexcusable for any nonprofit to hire a credibly accused child molesting cleric. A simple Google search would have shown that Fr. Ken is potentially dangerous and should never be given any position or title that confers respect, much less gives him access to vulnerable people."
Clohessy said there's a pattern of Catholic officials allowing suspended priests to resurface in other roles, sometimes around children. Prosecutors declined to press charges against Kaucheck in 2009 because they said the girl was at the age of legal consent.
Clohessy also criticized the archdiocese and Archbishop Allen Vigneron for not being more active in alerting Catholics about Kaucheck.
Clohessy said that "Vigneron’s irresponsible secrecy is one reason" why Gianna House's board chairman, Dr. Robert Welch, "says he was unaware of the accusation against Fr. Kaucheck and Fr. Kaucheck’s suspension."
Welch told the Macomb Daily that he was not aware of Kaucheck's history, calling it "shocking news." Attempts by the Free Press to reach Welch at local hospitals and offices were unsuccessful.
A woman who answered the phone at Gianna House said she would not comment on Kaucheck and would not leave a message for its officials. E-mails sent to Sister Mary Diane Masson, executive director of Gianna House, and Sister Theresa Mayrand, associate director of Gianna House, were not returned. Kaucheck could not be reached for comment.
Kaucheck was ordained in 1976 and had served as a pastor or associate pastor at churches in Clawson, Dearborn, Detroit, Troy, Grosse Pointe Woods and Ferndale, according to information from the archdiocese. In 2008, he was appointed pastor at St. Mary Parish in Royal Oak and St. James Parish in Ferndale.
In 2009, a woman came forward with allegations that Kaucheck abused her when he was counseling her at Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson in 1976, when she was a teen.
Her allegations were backed by Elizabeth Sayraf, now an Ann Arbor psychologist, who was interviewed by a diocesan investigator.
Sayraf told the Free Press in 2009 that she was a 17-year-old receptionist at Guardian Angels in 1976 when the girl had told her about the abuse, showing a plane ticket of a trip she and the priest had taken together to Florida. Sayraf said she reported it to a deacon at church, who told the senior priest.
Kaucheck, who would have been in his mid 20s at that time, was then reassigned to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dearborn.
After the incident was reported to police 33 years later, the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office declined to press criminal charges because the teen was of legal consent in 1976 when the sexual relationship took place, the Free Press reported.
Kohn said that when the archdiocese received the complaints in 2009, "we immediately reported the allegation to law enforcement authorities. The allegation also was reported to the Archdiocesan Review Board, which serves as a consultative body to review accusations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. The Review Board deemed that the allegation was substantive."
"The archbishop made the decision after having met with the victim, Rev. Kaucheck, and the Review Board -- to restrict Rev. Kaucheck from public ministry. ... The terms of these restrictions, which were made clear to Rev. Kaucheck, remain in place today."
Kaucheck has never commented publicly about the abuse allegations.
But in 2002, he was quoted in the Free Press about what Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida, at the time the head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, said during a meeting with 200 priests to discuss new church rules on sexual abuse.
"Children, children, children -- we have to protect children," Kaucheck said, describing what Maida stressed at the meeting