Accused Priest Is Offered Plea Bargain

By Adam Wittenberg
The Herald [New Britain CT]
October 1, 2004

NEW BRITAIN -- A Polish priest accused of raping a local teenager while serving at Sacred Heart Church can avoid a trial if he accepts a plea bargain offered Wednesday in New Britain Superior Court.

While attorneys for the priest and the state refused to discuss the terms of the offer, its acceptance would settle nearly two years of legal trouble for the Rev. Roman Kramek.

Kramek is accused of engaging a 17-year-old female New Britain High School student in sexual intercourse while she was seeking his counsel for a previous sexual assault in December 2002.

Kramek told police the woman did not refuse his advances but that she did not give him permission to touch her either. The victim has claimed she told him several times not to touch her.

State law prohibits clergy and counselors from having sexual contact with the people they are counseling.

Following his arrest on Christmas Eve 2002 supporters of both the priest and the victim have divided into separate camps to raise funds and advocate for their sides.

Lucyna Kolakowska of Farmington, one of a handful of individuals who have befriended Kramek, remains confident he will prove his innocence.

"I donít know anything about the (plea) offer. I just want to support him because he was left alone. Heís an easy target in a very difficult situation. He should not be punished for the mistakes of (other priests)," she said, referring to the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the church in the last few years.

Kramek came from a parish in northern Poland to assist with services at Sacred Heart during the busy holiday season. He speaks little English and has not seen his family in Poland since the incident.

His friends here have said he is anxious to return to Poland to care for his mother and tend to his home parish.

Kramek has maintained his innocence in court, pleading not guilty, and has until Nov. 3 to accept or decline the offer. He is accused of second-degree sexual assault, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Representatives of Sacred Heart Church declined to comment on the case but said the church continues the practice of hosting visiting priests from Poland.

"They come in at different intervals. The priests must obtain a letter of permission from their bishop and then go through a background check by the Archdiocese of Hartford. Thatís our policy for all priests, even when they come from within the United States," said Monsignor Daniel Plocharczyk, pastor of Sacred Heart.


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