Macomb Daily [Sterling Heights MI]
June 9, 2022
By Jameson Cook
A woman testified Thursday that in the 1980s when she was 16 she arrived unannounced at her 18-year-old boyfriend’s apartment and found him and a priest lying in a bed partially clothed.
The 53-year-old woman, whose identity is being withheld to protect the identity of her former boyfriend, said in Macomb County Circuit Court that during her teens she and her boyfriend befriended Neil Kalina, who is on trial for molesting a different teen boy in the mid-1980s when he was at St. Kieran (Catholic) Church in Shelby Township.
Kalina, 66, is charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, which is punishable by up to life in prison, and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The jury could find him guilty of a less severe charge on each offense.
Kalina allegedly touched the genitals of the complaining witness and had the boy touch his, according to Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark.
Kalina provided the boy with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine, and the boy awoke to Kalina fondling him during overnight stays at the St. Kieran recorty, according to a sworn statement by Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Rick Lutz.
Kalina was among several men in the clergy charged in 2019 with criminal sexual-conduct-related allegations while serving at churches in Michigan as part of a special investigation under state Attorney General Dana Nessel.
The woman testified in front of the jury that she and her boyfriend became friends with Kalina in winter 1985 when her boyfriend was “doing donuts” with his car in the St. Kieran parking lot and was confronted by Kalina, who feigned anger and then told them he was joking.
She said for the next couple of years they spent a great deal of time with Kalina, including “partying” with him, drinking alcohol in the rectory and going to dinners paid for by Kalina. She said her boyfriend was “very frequently” ingesting cocaine he received from Kalina.
Kalina also provided gifts, renting an apartment and then a house for her boyfriend, and buying him cars, a motorcycle, a horse and dinners, and gave the couple money when they were struggling. She had a baby at age 16 and they got married before divorcing in 1988 when the woman was 19. When they moved into a mobile home after their child was born, Kalina paid for the furniture, she said.
She didn’t know why Kalina bought them a horse but said it was kept at a stable at 29 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue.
She said her boyfriend stayed overnight at the rectory. She did not indicate the number of times.
She recalled on her 16th birthday in 1985, she received permission from her parents to leave school early to take her driver’s test. She was released from Eisenhower High School two hours earlier than planned and surprised her boyfriend at his residence at Shelby Oaks Apartments. She found him and Kalina lying on a pull-out-couch bed in the living room, and Kalina was dressed in underwear and her boyfriend was wearing a pair of “track pants” that Kalina typically wore.
She said her boyfriend got upset and they argued about what was going on. She did not elaborate.
That same year, Kalina was charged with three felony drug offenses, including possession and distribution of under 50 grams of cocaine. He pleaded guilty to one count of possession of under 50 grams of cocaine and was sentenced in 1986 to six months in jail and two years probation, according to court records.
Kalina baptized their child in 1986 at their apartment, not at St. Kieran, because he was banned from the church due to the criminal charges, she said.
Kalina then moved to California, and one time paid for the couple to visit him there, she said.
Also testifying Thursday was the wife of Kalina’s accuser, who took the stand Wednesday.
The woman said her husband, who is in his early 50s, “struggled” with drug abuse early in their marriage, which began in 2002. He has been sober for 15 years, she said.
“My husband early in our marriage struggled with drug abuse; he struggled with intimacy; he struggled with relationships with authorities,” she said.
He revealed to her in their first year of marriage he had been sexually abused by Kalina, although he never provided her or anyone else the details despite her prodding, she said.
“He did tell me he was a victim of clergy abuse,” she said. “I would say that he was scared people would find out about this information – embarrassed. He was anxious about that whole conversation.
“I do not know what happened to him. He won’t provide that information. I feel like there were more details because of how this has affected him. I don’t know what details but I feel like something bad happened.”
She said she called the Archdiocese of Detroit to ensure Kalina was no longer practicing “to project other children from a predator.”
Kalina left active ministry in 1993. He had been ordained in 1981 for the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, which is a religious order that operates separately from the AOD.
She said Kalina’s alleged abuse of her husband has not soured “my faith in God,” but, “We are no longer practicing Catholics.”
Their son was baptized in the Catholic church, though husband “would no longer allow his son to be raised in the Catholic church.”
She said her husband has undergone psychological therapy for his issues, and that increased after Kalina was charged.
She and her husband in January 2021 sued Kalina over the abuse in Macomb Circuit Court. She denied financial gain was a motivating factor in the lawsuit.
“We would like to have the defendant suffer like my husband has suffered the last 35 years,” she said.
The accuser’s mother also testified, saying she invited Kalina for dinner with her family at their Shelby Township home after he arrived at St. Kiernan in 1984 “to get to know him and the family to meet him.”
She said she was aware her son and Kalina spent time together.
“I thought he was a friend,” she said.
She said one time her son came home one evening “acting like he was drunk” and was told that was wrong.
One time following his friendship with Kalina her son “blurted out that (abuse by a priest) happened to him,” she said.
“I was shocked,” she said. “It was hard to discuss it with him because he was very adamant about not talking about it.”
Judge Diane Druzinski is presiding over the case.