4 Men Accused of Sexual Abuse Barred from Working As Priests

April 20, 2007

Detroit — Three Roman Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing minors have been permanently barred from working as priests, and a fourth was removed from the ministry, the Archdiocese of Detroit said Friday.

Dennis Laesch, Ronald Williams and James Wysocki "have been permanently removed from ecclesiastical ministry, are prohibited from wearing clerical clothes and publicly representing themselves as priests," Msgr. Ricardo Bass, Cardinal Adam Maida's delegate for clergy matters, said in a statement.

Dennis Duggan has been laicized, that is, removed from priestly ministry and excused from the promise of celibacy and other priestly obligations. The other three men remain priests but are restricted in their public ministry, Bass said.

The statement did not indicate where any of the men had worked as priests or mention the specific allegations against them.

Thus far, the Vatican has completed investigations of at least 22 priests in the 1.3-million member Detroit archdiocese since 2004, with only one priest being returned to ministry.

"This step does not absolve Cardinal Maida of his duty to warn families about and protect kids from these predators," Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a support group for victims of abuse by clergy, said in a statement. "Even though the crimes may be old, criminal prosecution may still be possible."

Maida last year announced a plan to would reduce the number of parishes in the six-county archdiocese from 306 to 290 by 2011. The archdiocese had 414 priests in 2000, but that dropped to 317 by 2005 and is projected to drop to 243 by 2015. The decline was accelerated in part by the removal of priests accused of sexual abuse, he said.


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