Detroit Archdiocese Moves Problem Priest
Church Says It Wants to Monitor Convicted Clergyman's Activities

By Jim Schaefer
Detroit Free Press
May 9, 2002

A Detroit priest convicted of assaulting a teenage boy in 1999 was moved from his Livonia retirement home Wednesday to an undisclosed location so the Archdiocese of Detroit can better monitor his activities, a spokesman said.

Ned McGrath declined late Wednesday to detail the reasons why the archdiocese forced the Rev. Joseph Sito to move. He said, "It came to our attention certainly in the last couple of weeks here that he needed more supervision... . I wouldn't call them allegations, but just concerns that were raised."

McGrath would not identify where the priest lives now.

Two men told the Detroit Free Press recently that Sito attempted sex acts on them during drunken gatherings in the priest's apartment in the Senior Clergy Village on the campus of the Felician Sisters and Madonna University.

The men said Sito, 66, forced himself upon them as recently as last year on the campus at I-96 and Levan. Both men were over 18 when the separate incidents occurred. They said they complained recently to Wayne County prosecutors, who interviewed them last week. The men said they were told their cases likely would not result in criminal charges.

Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan could not be reached late Wednesday. The Free Press generally does not identify sex abuse victims without their consent.

Church officials have disciplined Sito and restricted his activities several times in years past.

In 1993, Sito resigned as pastor of St. Cletus Church in Warren after a credible allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor, the archdiocese said. He was put on administrative leave and sent for treatment for sex offenders. The archdiocese restricted his ministry and said he was under watch to prevent him from molesting again.

After treatment at two facilities, he retired to the clergy village in Livonia, where the archdiocese said he was banned from public ministry.

In 1999, Sito was charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct after he convinced a 17-year-old boy to expose himself, court records show. The boy and his mother had gone to the priest's apartment for counseling over a pending divorce, and Sito asked the mother to leave so he could hear the boy's confession, court records show.

In a deal with the prosecutor's office, Sito pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of assault, and the sex offense was dismissed. He paid a fine and did not go to jail.

Archdiocesan officials said he should not have been counseling the boy.

This year, during Easter week, Sito helped celebrate at least two services in the large chapel on the Felician Sisters campus, the Free Press reported. As with all masses there, the public was invited. There were children in the pews.

Again, archdiocesan officials said the priest should not have been ministering to the public.


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