Ex-Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Charges
Madison Man Accused of Illicit Involvement with Youths He Counseled

By Peggy Wright
Daily Record [Parsippany NJ]
September 7, 2005

A former Roman Catholic priest pleaded innocent at his arraignment Tuesday on charges of sexual misconduct with four male teenagers he counseled as a social worker at Daytop-NJ in Mendham.

Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Meg Rodriguez said the state will make a formal plea offer within seven days to defendant Richard J. Mieliwocki, 58, to resolve three charges of child endangerment and five charges of criminal sexual contact against the ex-priest, a Madison resident.

If the case goes to trial, the prosecutor's office will try to introduce evidence of so-called "prior bad acts" by Mieliwocki. Rodriguez did not elaborate at the Superior Court hearing on the alleged past bad acts, but records and authorities say that Mieliwocki had two incidences of inappropriate behavior with male teens in his past.

Mieliwocki was indicted in August on charges of misconduct between March 8 and Dec. 6, 2004, with four youths between the ages of 16 and 18 while he worked as a counselor at the in-patient substance abuse rehabilitation facility in Mendham. He allegedly asked three about the size of their genitals and whether they masturbated. He also is accused of touching the buttocks of one boy, the genitals of a second, and getting a third teenager to remove his clothing so he could spank his bare buttocks.

Ordained a priest in 1972, Mieliwocki as of 1994 was assigned to the Archdiocese of Newark. He worked as a priest at St. Joseph the Carpenter Church in Roselle. A sexual abuse allegation was made against him in 1994 and he was put on leave and ordered to undergo counseling when an archdiocese response team found the allegation to be credible, said James Goodness, spokesman for the archdiocese.

Professional probation

Mieliwocki stopped treatment and his whereabouts were unknown to the archdiocese until he was charged in December with misconduct at Daytop.

Daytop officials were not aware when they hired Mieliwocki in 2002 that his social work license had been put on probation in June 1999 for three years by the state Board of Social Work Examiners. The probation arose from a complaint against Mieliwocki while he was employed as a staff clinician at Clifton Mental Health Service, a division of Service Centers of New Jersey in Clifton. He was assigned to work with a young male on a weekly basis from October 1996 through January or February 1997.

During that time, Mieliwocki handed the youth a 35-mm film canister that contained white capsules, knowing the client had a history of steroid use. Mieliwocki told the youth the pills "were black market drugs that would both stimulate him sexually and serve to relax him,"according to records on file with the state.

The pills actually were melatonin, a natural hormone that induces sleep. The records further state that Mieliwocki tried to counsel the youth in Clifton "in the realm of sex therapy,"which was beyond the scope of his training and not part of the youth's treatment plan.

Peggy Wright can be reached at (973)267-1142