Ex-Priest Is Indicted for Sex Abuse
By Maria Vogel-Short
August 17, 2005
Mendham —- The lawyer for an indicted ex-priest said charges against his client of child abuse and endangerment have been "misinterpreted," while the head of the Daytop drug treatment program where the priest was employed said Monday he is grateful the former cleric was "stopped in his tracks."
The former priest, the Rev. Richard Mieliwocki, 58, was indicted by a Morris County grand jury in Morristown on Tuesday, Aug. 9, for criminal sexual contact and child endangerment at Daytop Village between March and December of 2004.
The indictment alleges that Mieliwocki abused four male residents of Daytop, age 16 to 18. Daytop is a residential drug rehabilitation program in Mendham.
Mieliwocki was arrested on Dec. 28, 2004, after Daytop director the Rev. Joseph Hennen notified the Morris County Prosecutor's of alleged improper behavior by Mieliwocki during counseling sessions..
Mieliwocki had been suspended from his priest post almost two years ago by the Archdiocese of Newark after allegations of sexual abuse were made, dating back to 1994, according to a spokesman for the Newark archdiocese.
The state Department of Community Affairs suspended his license as a social worker for alleged improper behavior in 1999 at Clifton Mental Health Service, according to authorities with the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.
The archdiocese said the statute of limitations had expired for filing criminal charges and noted a confidentiality agreement was in place.
The state Department of Community Affairs said his social work license was briefly suspended in June 1999, and after agreeing to counseling, the proposed three-year suspension was halted and a three-year probationary period was instituted.
The prosecutor's office also said Mieliwocki worked at Catholic Charities in Metuchen in 2000, before coming to Daytop.
Hennen said that at the time Mieliwocki was hired, the center was not informed of Mieliwocki's history by either the archdiocese of Newark or the Clifton Mental Health Service program.
"We stopped him in his tracks when others didn't," said Hennen. "If Daytop had not done the right thing, he might still be abusing someone. I'm very proud that we reported him."
Mieliwocki was a substance abuse counselor at Daytop. He was alleged to have abused the youths while allegedly providing treatment.
Defense attorney Thomas C. Pluciennik, who said he knew Mieliwocki when he served as a priest, said the accused was using psychotherapeutic methods that are "cutting edge."
But Hennon said the methods were not accepted therapy.
"I have never heard of any psychotherapy that would be close to any of his activities," said Hennen. "I'm a certified school psychologist and I have never heard of any therapy that would allow or propose that kind of activity."
Mieliwocki was charged with allegedly touching a 17-year-old's genitals on Nov. 15, 2004. He was also charged with allegedly asking the same teenager to strip on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004.
An 18-year-old youth alleged that Mieliwocki spanked him on Monday, Dec. 6, 2004, and asked him questions about masturbation and his anatomy during counseling sessions in November and December, according to the affidavit signed by Detective Dan J. Haber of the Morris County Prosecutor's office.
Although the policy is that two staff members have to be present during a medical search, Mieliwocki allegedly strip-searched a 17-year-old youth on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2004, without anyone present, according to the affidavit.
A spokesman for the Newark archdiocese said Mieliwocki was removed from his post at St. Joseph the Carpenter Church in Roselle in February 1994 when allegations surfaced from his former parish, Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange.
An adult and minor came forward with allegations that Mieliwocki sexually abused them, said James Goodness, a spokesperson for the Newark archdiocese.
One of the men was awarded $60,000 in 1994, and Mieliwocki was placed on administrative leave, Goodness said.
But Goodness said there was a six-year gap between when Mieliwocki allegedly abused the parishioners and when the church found out.
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