Catholic Priest in Abuse Scandal Resigns from Pregnancy Center
By Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press
May 19, 2016
Fr. Kenneth Kaucheck, 69, has resigned from a Catholic pregnancy teen center that he co-founded
|Hands of catholic priest holding rosary|
A Catholic priest who was removed in 2009 from churches after allegations he abused a teen girl has resigned from a center for pregnant teens in Eastpointe that he cofounded, Catholic officials said this week.
The Rev. Kenneth Kaucheck, 69, was the cofounder, development director and a board member of Gianna House, a new Catholic center to help teen girls who are pregnant. But after recent reports on his position there, officials with the center and the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit now are saying he has resigned and no longer works there.
Kaucheck's name has been scrubbed from Gianna House's website, which used to say that Kaucheck cofounded the center along with Sister Mary Diane Masson, executive director at the House and that he selected the board along with Masson.
Now the website says Masson alone had selected the board and is a cofounder.
The center also has selected a new board, with chairnman Dr. Robert Welch no longer on the board.
Masson and another board member of Gianna House, pro-life activist Diane Trombley, told the Free Press this week that Kaucheck did not interact with any girls while he was serving there.
"He ... did not interact with the pregnant and parenting teens whom Gianna House serves," Masson said.
Masson referred further questions to Trombley, who said that Kaucheck never was on site when teens were there for classes.
"I think people have the wrong idea that Father Ken was there, living there ... and that just wasn't the case," Trombley said.
Currently, the center offers classes and support for pregnant teens as well as baby shower celebrations, Trombley said. She said the center plans to later have pregnant teens live full time on site, possibly by Christmas. Gianna House is aimed at helping girls in need ages 17 and younger who are expecting, since most other types of centers require the girl to be 18 in order to get help, Trombley said.
Messages left this week for Kaucheck at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills, where he resides, were not returned.
Kaucheck was banned from public ministry by the Archdiocese of Detroit in 2009 after church officials determined he had committed sexual misconduct in the 1970s with a 16-year-old girl he was counseling as a priest. 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.
Oakland County prosecutors declined to press charges against Kaucheck in 2009 because they said the girl was at the age of legal consent, police said in 2009. The Macomb Daily first reported last month that Kaucheck was involved with Gianna House.
On Thursday, Ned McGrath, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said that the Archdiocese had notified Kaucheck and his canon lawyer in August 2015 that he was violating his prohibition on public ministry by his involvement with Gianna House. McGrath said the Archdiocese initially "heard he might be involved in some way with fund raising."
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Detroit said: "Gianna House is not owned, operated or officially affiliated with the Archdiocese of Detroit. Father Kaucheck was a cofounder of Gianna House and took on leadership positions there, and did so without the knowledge or approval of the Archdiocese. ... The Archdiocese continues to address this matter in a canonical process overseen by the Congregation for Clergy at the Vatican."
Trombley said that "the Archdiocese was aware that Father Ken was involved with Gianna House," adding that they weren't "hiding Father Ken under a bushel."
Trombley said that she wasn't aware of what Kaucheck might have done in the past. "I have no first-hand knowledge," she said.
Added Trombley, a nurse who's a board member of Right to Life-Lifespan and president of Michigan Nurses for Life: "I wasn't there. It was a long time ago. But all I know was his desire to help young girls with a problem pregnancy, to find them a place to live."
She said she was told that Vatican courts found there was no misbehavior on Kaucheck's part.
"From my understanding, when he was first queried regarding this, he was quite open and took his entire history to the Vatican, and it was adjudicated through the Vatican courts."
"I was not aware of anything other than his desire to establish a residence for teen girls who were pregnant," she said.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said that while Kaucheck resigning is a good first step, the Archdiocese needs to do more to alert other churches and Catholic centers about Kaucheck "through parish bulletins, church websites, pulpit announcements and personal visits to churches by the Archbishop."
If the Archdiocese had done that previously, he might not have been able to cofound Gianna House, Clohessy said.
"They should disclose the whereabouts of every child-molesting cleric who has worked or lives in the Archdiocese so that kids can be protected," he said.
Trombley said the focus at Gianna House now is to help pregnant teen, saying that being pro-life means not only being against abortion, but helping people in need.
"I don't ever want to be perceived or have Gianna House be perceived as less than it should be because of unknown quantities," Trombley said. "I don't want Gianna House damaged because somewhere someone said something happened. I don't know if anything happened. I just know I care deeply about Gianna House and I recognize the need for Gianna House and I want it to succeed, as does everyone else on the board."