Ex-Catholic school employee waives exam on child-abuse charges

Macomb Daily
July 8, 2015

Joseph Sturza

A man who worked as admissions director at a Catholic high school in Ray Township waived his right Wednesday to a preliminary examination on charges he sent sexually explicit email messages to a child.

As a result, Joseph Peter Sturza, of Macomb Township, now faces trial on multiple felonies, including child-abuse sexual activity, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison upon conviction.

Sturza also is charged with two counts of communicating with another person to commit a crime; and accosting children for immoral purposes.

His next scheduled court appearance is July 20 in Macomb County Circuit Court.

Sturza, 47 at the time of his arrest last November, was charged while working as admissions director at Detroit Austin Academy, a parochial high school of about 60 students in Ray Township.

He was arrested following an investigation by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, triggered when the parents of a child discovered sexually explicit messages sent electronically to their child. The parents notified the Archdiocese of Detroit, which in turn contacted law enforcement authorities. Sturza was then arrested.

Sturza had worked at the academy for about two years, but was removed from the position following his arrest.

At the time of Sturza’s arrest, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said no evidence was uncovered to suggest that Sturza and the child ever met as a result of the messages.

Sturza also served as a youth minister at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Macomb Township and previously worked at Catholic parishes in New Haven and Armada.

He remains free on bond, but must abide by court-ordered restrictions. Those restrictions include: Sturza must wear a GPS tether; stay away from Austin Academy and its events; and avoid contact with the child.


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