Defrocked priest among 3 killed in Livonia crash

The Detroit News
January 6, 2016

The Rev. Joseph Sito is shown in this undated photo provided by the Archdiocese of Detroit.

One of the three people killed in a multi-car crash this week at a Livonia intersection was a former priest at several Metro Detroit Catholic parishes who was defrocked over sex abuse allegations.

Joseph Sito, 80, of Livonia, who died in the Monday accident, was laicized by the Vatican in 2004, said Ned McGrath, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit. By laicizing Sito, the Vatican returned him to the status of layman and severed his ties with the archdiocese.

“It’s a tragic accident,” McGrath said Wednesday. “I guess he had a medical event. Three people are dead. It’s a terrible thing.”

According to police, Sito was westbound on Five Mile about 4 p.m. Monday when he crossed the center line and his car struck an eastbound Ford Focus. A Ford minivan also was involved in the crash, which also killed two occupants of the Focus: Suzanne Wernette-Robb, 67, of Redford Township, and Bernadine Karby, 88, of Livonia.

Sito was defrocked because of sexual abuse of boys, according to Detroit News archives. He was placed on administrative leave in 1993 after allegations of sexual abuse with minors, then given additional restrictions after pleading guilty to a lesser charge in another abuse case in 2002.

At the time he was put on leave, Sito was pastor of St. Cletus Church in Warren.

According to Archdiocese records, Sito was ordained in 1962 and also served at St. Joseph Church in Wyandotte and St. Stephen, St. Andrew, Our Lady Help of Christians and St. Louis the King churches, all in Detroit.


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