Ex-Priest Gets Year in Jail for Molesting Boys
Church Has Settled 20 Lawsuits against Him for $13 Million
By Ronald J. Hansen
January 17, 2003
Detroit — Acknowledging he sexually assaulted two boys decades ago, a former Catholic priest apologized Thursday for the attacks before beginning a one-year jail sentence at the Wayne County Jail.
Jason Sigler, 64, maintained that while psychiatrists in New Mexico "cured my illness" 20 years ago, he was ready to accept punishment. Last month, Sigler pleaded no contest to criminal sexual conduct charges stemming from incidents in the 1960s and 1970s. Before Sigler was sentenced, one of his victims told Wayne Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny he had waited 38 years for justice.
"I held this dark secret within me for all these years," the man, now 50, told Kenny. "Father Sigler stole my innocence, my dignity and my soul. Today, I'm here to reclaim them."
The man's father could hardly contain his anger. He called Sigler a disgrace, and promised that Sigler faced harsher punishment from God.
In 1970, Sigler left the Diocese of Lansing to seek treatment at a center for priests in New Mexico. But after his release, Sigler worked in New Mexico churches and later acknowledged abusing at least 17 boys during the 1970s and 1980s.
He pleaded guilty in 1983 to a sex charge, and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe settled more than 20 sex abuse lawsuits against him at a cost of at least $13 million.
Sigler molested one of his victims in the boy's River Rouge home. Sigler would go upstairs to his bedroom, ostensibly to bless the child.
In addition to the one-year jail sentence, Sigler faces four years of probation.
Two other Catholic priests have been convicted of sexually assaulting juvenile boys in Wayne County in recent months. One received a 30-day jail sentence, and the other faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced. Another priest is scheduled to stand trial on sexual assault charges.
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