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  New Complaints on Priests Shown
Prosecutor's Files Detail Additional Accusations

By Jim Schaefer and Patricia Montemurri
Detroit Free Press
October 19, 2002

New sexual misconduct allegations against several Detroit area priests were revealed Friday after the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office released investigative documents involving 13 clergy.

The files also provide more details about allegations already known. For instance, church leaders removed the Rev. Walter Lezuchowski in May from St. Ronald parish in Clinton Township for alleged abuse of a girl. But they did not disclose that Lezuchowski had been accused of a 16-year sexual relationship with the unnamed girl, beginning when she was in the first grade. In another removal this year, the Rev. Dennis Duggan resigned as pastor of St. Suzanne in Detroit in March after one allegation of sexual abuse, Archdiocese of Detroit leaders said at the time.

But at least four more molestation complaints have been lodged against the priest since then, according to the prosecutors' documents, which the Free Press obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Most of the claims against Duggan appear to involve alleged abuse of boys during the 1980s and 1990s. One of the reports indicates the priest called one of his accusers several times in the three days before his removal at the end of March to apologize.

Because the cases were believed to be too old to prosecute, investigators did not try to determine their validity, said Prosecutor Michael Duggan, who is not related to the Rev. Duggan.

David Allen, a lawyer representing the Rev. Duggan, said the allegations made in the released documents are "completely unsubstantiated" and that the priest has appealed his ouster.

Steve Wasko, a lifelong St. Suzanne parishioner who helped lead protests over the priest's removal, said his support will not waiver.

"I'm certain that I speak for hundreds of others that what's here doesn't change one iota of standing behind our pastor and our friend," he said.

Rev. Duggan, like other priests mentioned in this article, could not be reached for comment.

In August, Prosecutor Duggan announced criminal sexual misconduct charges against four current or former priests. The documents released to the Free Press involve other cases in which the prosecutor determined criminal charges could not be filed because the cases were too old.

The prosecutor's office focused on investigations into priests who were still working in archdiocesan churches.

The file on the Rev. Edmund Borycz, who was removed in June as pastor of St. Michael in Livonia, includes five complaints alleging the priest had sexually abused minors in separate incidents from 1963 to 1987.

At least four of the alleged victims told investigators from the prosecutor's office that Borycz fondled them while they were in bed. But the cases weren't pursued because they were too old.

Borycz's attorney, David Cripps, said the priest denies any wrongdoing.

The file on the Rev. Ronald Williams, pastor of St. Mary's of Redford, shows that two other men brought complaints of sexual abuse against the priest to prosecutors after he was put on leave in early September.

One man described an alleged incident in 1979, while he was 16. The man claims that Williams showed him pornographic movies at his rectory and got him so drunk that he passed out. He said he awoke to discover Williams trying to perform oral sex on him.

That alleged pattern of giving stiff drinks to teens, then attempting oral sex, is identical to the claim made in June that led to Williams' removal from the parish, the records show.

In Late September, another man told prosecutors that Williams fondled his bottom when he was 17 in 1984.

The files released to the Free Press provide a limited look at allegations against archdiocesan priests in Wayne County. They include complaints turned in directly to the office and records of the prosecutors' investigations. The names of the accusers were deleted from the released reports.

They do not include documents that the archdiocese turned over to the prosecutor's office in May. Prosecutor Duggan declined to turn over those files.

The newspaper requested records from Oakland and Macomb counties, too. Oakland officials said there were no documents and Macomb has not yet responded.

Msgr. Walter Hurley, Cardinal Adam Maida's point man on the sex abuse scandal, said the final fate of many of the accused priests may not be decided until a national sex abuse policy is approved by the Vatican. Until then, the priests are on leave and cannot perform public ministry.

 
 

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