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  Beverly Hills Priest Fired
Allegations against Pastor Go Back 40 Years

By David Crumm and Patricia Montemurri
Detroit Free Press
June 28, 2002

The continuing stream of new allegations against Catholic priests led to the firing of an Oakland County pastor, announced Thursday, and has caused Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan to consider delaying a planned announcement about his progress in investigating the claims.

At Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Beverly Hills, parishioners were stunned to learn this week that their pastor, the Rev. Robert Wyzgoski, was fired because of recently discovered allegations about sexual misconduct in the 1960s in Wayne County.

Wyzgoski is the 12th priest since January disciplined by the Archdiocese of Detroit for abuse allegations, and the third priest in the past week fired under the church's new zero-tolerance policy for past misbehavior with minors. A fourth priest was removed this week for allegations involving an adult.

Last week, Duggan's office turned over to the Archdiocese of Detroit new information about sexual misconduct involving three actively working priests, one of whom was Wyzgoski. The archdiocese is still reviewing the information against the other two priests.

In addition, Duggan recently received complaints about two more priests, and he said the investigation into those men may delay a news conference he had planned for Monday.

Duggan's office is investigating about a dozen cases that involve allegations lodged against men who may no longer be priests, or are not actively working for the Catholic church.

Reports of Wyzgoski's alleged sexual activity with teenage girls recently came to light, first in a claim made to church officials and then in further allegations discovered by the prosecutor, both Duggan and Msgr. Walter Hurley, an aide to Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida, said Thursday.

Wyzgoski's alleged misconduct cannot be prosecuted because it happened too long ago and beyond the statute of limitations, Duggan said. The laws in effect at the time would have required charges to be brought within six years of the alleged abuse, Duggan said.

Hurley stressed that there is no report of Wyzgoski misbehaving in his current parish, which includes a K-8 school.

Wyzgoski, 69, has served at St. Veronica, Eastpointe; St. Suzanne and St. Christopher, both in Detroit; Our Lady Queen of Peace, Harper Woods, and St. Benedict, Pontiac.

Rob Tucker, a member of the parish council at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, said, "This will be very difficult. I think there will be defections, particularly because we have a school.

"I'm facing a situation myself where I have to sit down with my 10-year-old son at some point and talk about this. He's going to hear rumors about what happened and he knows Father Wyzgoski as his pastor, the leader of his school and the priest who heard his first confession."

Ken Stuart, another parish council member, said, "It was terrible what he did, but that was almost 40 years ago and I'm sure the man made peace with God about that many years ago."

In recent years, Wyzgoski led an exemplary life, Stuart said. "Here's a man of devotion who has been our pastor for the past six or seven years and I'm very grateful for the many things he's started in our church."

Among the spiritual programs introduced by Wyzgoski is an around-the-clock devotion in a chapel where parishioners have taken turns for the past five years in stopping for prayer and meditation, Stuart said.

Cheryl Haffey, also a member of the council, said, "He's also put a beautiful addition onto the school and our parish center."

The more than $2-million construction project added new gym space, computer and science labs, said Tucker.

In the past week, Maida has fired the Rev. Robert Haener and the Rev. Michael Daly, who had worked in Livonia for the Felician Sisters, a religious order. In Trenton, the Rev. James Vedro, a member of the Crosier order, was fired by his superiors for past sexual misconduct with adults.

 
 

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