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  Teen Tells Story of a Priest's Betrayal
A New Britain Girl Tells How a Clergyman Said He'd Counsel Her and Instead Sexually Assaulted Her

By Joann Klimkiewicz
Hartford Courant [Connecticut]
January 16, 2003

When the Rev. Roman Kramek stepped into the 17-year-old girl's home Dec. 18, he would have seen a picture of Pope John Paul II hanging in the entranceway.

Dressed in street clothes and appearing distracted, Kramek didn't look like a priest, the girl said Tuesday.

"You couldn't even recognize him," said the teen, who had only met him once before. "I didn't even realize who that was until [I saw] the face. The face was the only thing."

Sitting in her home, just outside the room where, Kramek has said, he had sex with her, the teen says she just wants people to know the truth.

She's heard the rumors and innuendo. She read the reports that the Rev. Paul Wysocki, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, had called her a "tramp."

She said she agreed to discuss the incident because she wants people to hear her side of the story.

"I just want people to know that that's not the truth," she said Tuesday.

"I just want the pastor ... the people in the community to just leave me alone, basically," she said.

Since Kramek's arrest last month on charges he sexually assaulted her, the girl says it seems the community has sided with the priest. Her grandmother, her legal guardian, says people in town look at her strangely, questioning her actions and the motives and reputation of her granddaughter.

Looking back, the grandmother says she had an odd feeling about Kramek, a priest visiting Sacred Heart from Poland. He didn't say hello to her when he turned up at her home, and he was rude and insisted on speaking with her granddaughter, she said.

But she never thought she might be putting the girl in danger by allowing the two to meet. He was, after all, a priest.

Settled in the dining room, in a home where crucifixes hang near prayer cards of the Virgin Mary, the girl spoke with the calmness of a person who has told her story so many times before -- to social workers and to police.

At 6, the girl said, she was taken from her mother -- an alcoholic and drug addict with whom she now keeps loose contact. She doesn't know her father. The next few years would bring a shuffling between foster care homes and her grandmother's home.

At about 10, she moved to a residential treatment facility. There, a staff member raped her, she said. She eventually returned to her grandmother.

The pair moved around for several years. At one of their homes, she was raped by the father of a child she baby-sat for, the girl said.

"So it's kind of, this ... has been going on all the time," she said. "I just kind of, like, freeze. Because ... no matter how you defend yourself, you don't know if that person's stronger than you. You don't know if that person has a knife on themselves, you don't know if that person has a gun on themselves. So [you think] if I do this, I'll be straight, I'll be alive. I might be in pain, emotional pain, but I'll still be alive."

Last November, after an evening driving lesson in downtown New Britain, the girl decided to take a taxi -- safer, she thought, than walking. The driver raped her, she said.

It was that incident that prompted a woman, a religious psychological counselor the girl had known, to help. The girl had spoken in the past with the counselor, who is also Polish, and had told her about the November assault. She said she did not want the counselor identified.

The counselor and the girl ran into each other at Sacred Heart, where Kramek, 40, came to help temporarily for the Christmas season. The woman suggested the girl needed to speak with someone about the assault. But the girl wasn't interested. As she left the church, the girl said, she noticed the woman talking with Kramek.

About a week later, the girl said, Kramek came uninvited and unannounced to the house, dressed as a priest. The religious counselor had driven him, according to police reports.

Kramek told the grandmother that her granddaughter had asked him to come for coffee. But the girl said Tuesday that this visit was the first time she had met and spoken with Kramek.

"I asked, 'Why are you here?"' the grandmother recalled. "He said, 'I came to help [her]."'

The girl, who spoke to Kramek in Polish, said she didn't make a fuss. "I had Franciscan priests who are religious counselors and I would talk to them about my problems. And they would always be, you know, supportive, and tell me what to do if I'm seeking help. They would pray over me and things like that. And that's what I thought this priest was going to do."

Kramek and the girl sat in the living room. He asked her how old she was, how she liked school.

"He starts asking about, "Did anything bad happen to you before?' ... And I tell him what happened. Not in detail, but I tell him.

"And he says, 'Well, next time that I come, I would want to help you get through these problems.' Because he says, 'Oh, you might be scared of guys now.' "

About a week passed. On Dec. 18, Kramek called the house. He wanted to see the girl, he told her grandmother. The grandmother told him that day, a Wednesday, would not be good for a visit. She was busy preparing for Christmas. Plus, she was expecting repairmen to fix a broken door.

But Kramek insisted, the grandmother said. She told him 4 p.m. He showed up 20 minutes to the hour, dressed in baggy slacks and a sweater. He didn't behave much like a priest, the grandmother said. He seemed distracted and on edge.

"I was thinking, 'Are you a priest, or who are you?"' the elderly woman said in her native Polish. "He didn't look like a priest, but like a bum from the street."

The grandmother said she needed to tend to the mess left by the workers, and so let Kramek and the girl talk alone in the living room -- just off from the kitchen. The girl recalls the door being shut completely, but the grandmother said she believes it was opened a crack.

Kramek asked her about the assault in the cab, the girl said. "He starts saying, 'Did he touch you here and did he touch you there?' and he puts his hands in those spots. And I kind of shrug back, because I realized something's about to happen," she said.

At one point, the grandmother said, she came in with coffee. She sat for a while and tried to begin a conversation with Kramek. But she felt he didn't want her there. She figured she'd leave the two to talk, and returned to the kitchen to wash dishes and do some ironing.

Later, the grandmother said, she peeked into the room and saw Kramek with his hand around the girl. She thought he might be praying over her. She went into her bedroom to pray by herself.

Kramek seemed nervous, the girl said, keeping an eye on the door and jumping at noises. He then pushed her shoulders to the couch.

"It brought me back to the past, where I was having, you could say, a flashback ... and I couldn't do anything because my mind was somewhere else. And then after it was over, ... I came to reality, and finally realized what had happened," she said.

Nearly two hours after he arrived, Kramek left. He said he had to return to the church to hear confession, the girl said. He told her he wanted to visit her again. He left without saying goodnight to the girl or the grandmother.

The girl went to the bathroom. There she cried alone for some time. Later that night, she told her grandmother what had happened. She said she didn't call police then because it was getting late and she was exhausted.

"I could not believe it," the girl said. "The worst part was that it was a priest."

The next day at New Britain High School, the girl told a social worker and the police were called.

The days following the assault were the toughest, especially Christmas Eve. Particularly hard, she said, was the reaction from some in the community. Some have questioned her allegations and her reputation, suggesting money was her motive. A group has also formed to raise funds for the priest's defense.

"I probably knew that I would get the blame for it, because in the Polish tradition ... I guess priests are like saints. They don't do anything wrong," said the girl, who is in counseling.

Of the fund-raising for the priest, "I just say, well, it's up to the courts," she said. "I can't really do anything [about that]."

Besides family, counselors and authorities, she hasn't told anyone about the assault. Talk at school has died down, she said, and she's trying to move forward.

Athletics and martial arts have helped her cope with the stress and clear her mind. And she's trying to focus on her career aspirations: to one day work for the FBI.

Meanwhile, Kramek is being held at the Cheshire Correction Center with bail set at $500,000. His next court appearance is Jan. 30. But the girl doesn't want to see the priest again and has no desire to be in court that day.

"I'm trying to put this behind me," she said.

 
 

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