Worthy: Donations Bought Priest Porn
Clothing-Optional Resort, Gambling on Tab, Prosecutor Says

By Ben Schmitt
Detroit Free Press
December 19, 2007

An embattled Garden City priest took trips to a clothing-optional Caribbean resort, ran up gambling debts and paid for Internet pornography with the help from personal donations from parishioners, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Nonetheless, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said there is insufficient evidence to charge the Rev. Donald Demmer of St. Dunstan Catholic Church with a crime.

Somewhat lost in Worthy's announcement were embezzlement charges filed Tuesday against the fired church secretary, Debra Ann Kilyanek, 54, of Garden City. Kilyanek, who was arraigned Tuesday, is charged with embezzlement of more than $100,000 and using a computer to commit a felony. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Father Don Demmer receives an emotional hug from Rachel Jordan during a meet and greet in this October file photo.
Photo by Madalyn Ruggiero

"The archdiocese has urged us to be candid with the details of the investigation," Worthy said.

Worthy said Demmer, who has been on medical leave since June and has garnered wide support from parishioners since, made about 200 trips to casinos in Michigan, Nevada and Florida dating to 2000. He also made trips to the Club Orient on the island of St. Martin, Worthy said.

Club Orient advertises itself online as "Clothing Optional, Family Friendly!"

"He funded his lifestyle, in part, by multiple donations from parishioners made to him personally," Worthy said. "It is unlikely that the parishioners were aware of how their gifts were used. The conduct of Father Demmer, while disturbing, is not criminal."

Additionally, "numerous subscription charges were made to companies providing pornographic Internet services that appear on Father Demmer's bank records," she said.

Worthy said Demmer admitted to Garden City police that he has large personal debts because of a gambling problem.

Supporters of Demmer scoffed at Worthy's remarks, calling them slanderous and influenced by the Archdiocese of Detroit. Some pledged to continue to give him money.

"What he does with his money is his business," said Donna Becker, 39, of Garden City. "I have written him a check since all of these allegations. I frequent the Caribbean and half the places there are clothing-optional."

St. Dunstan parishioner Gregg Ward said he still hopes Demmer returns to the church and questioned Worthy's motivation.

"There's no reason to smear a person, other than the satisfaction to smear a Catholic priest," Ward, 46, of Dearborn said. "In the Catholic Church, we have Bingos, we have Vegas nights, and there are priests that go to casinos. If people have given their money to him freely, it's not with strings attached."

Demmer, who previously has denied any wrongdoing, did not return a call Tuesday.

In the spring, the Archdiocese of Detroit conducted an audit of St. Dunstan's books and uncovered a loss of $111,693, Worthy said.

Starting in October 2005, Kilyanek began charging her personal financial transactions to the St. Dunstan checking account, Worthy said.

Demmer fired Kilyanek in February. In September, Garden City police began investigating allegations of embezzlement and unpaid federal payroll taxes.

The parish also owes more than $1 million in payroll taxes, interest and penalties, Worthy said.

Kilyanek was freed on a $100,000 personal bond Tuesday after arraignment in 21st District Court in Garden City. She could not be reached for comment.

The archdiocese is reviewing Worthy's findings, spokesman Rich Laskos said. The Rev. Thomas Sutherland is currently the temporary administrator of St. Dunstan and will stay for the near future, the archdiocese said in a statement.

Contact BEN SCHMITT at or 313-223-4296.


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