Beverly Hills Priest Quits over Abuse Charges
Cardinal Maida Removes Rev. Robert Wyzgoski after Archdiocese Investigates Sexual Misconduct

By Hawke Fracassa
Detroit News
June 28, 2002

Beverly Hills -- The Rev. Robert Wyzgoski, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church in Beverly Hills, quit the parish Monday as part of the ongoing sexual scandal in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church, Archdiocese of Detroit spokesman Ned McGrath said Thursday night.

"These actions follow credible allegations of sexual misconduct with minors (that) were recently brought forward. (They date) back to the earlier years of his ministry," McGrath said.

Wyzgoski was replaced by the Rev. Michael Heppen, who will serve as temporary administrator until a permanent pastor is chosen.

McGrath said Wyzgoski, 69 and the latest in a series of U.S. Roman Catholic priests to resign, be fired or suspended from duty over allegations of sexual misconduct, is on a leave of absence "and restricted from any public ministry."

Cardinal Adam Maida so far has removed two priests serving in restricted ministry and is continuing to review new molestation evidence against at least two other active priests.

Wyzgoski's resignation comes as the Catholic Church remains in nationwide upheaval, a crisis that has lingered since January over allegations of sexual abuse of young parishioners by priests.

McGrath said the allegations against Wyzgoski came to light after several county prosecutors in Metro Detroit began investigating every complaint made against every local Catholic priest for the past 15 years.

The archdiocese learned about the allegation against Wyzgoski in the late spring.

"A single -- and separate -- complaint was received and processed by the archdiocese but there was insufficient information to proceed with any action at that time," McGrath said. "Fr. Wyzgoski has cooperated fully in this process."

Before becoming pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in 1996, Wyzgoski was pastor of St. Suzanne in Detroit from 1972-84 and of St. Veronica in Eastpointe from 1984-96. He previously served as associate pastor of St. Christopher in Detroit, at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Harper Woods and at St. Benedict in Pontiac in 1959.

Wyzgoski became an ordained priest in 1959.

The crisis in Michigan came to a head in May, when the archdiocese turned over to prosecutors in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, St. Clair, Monroe and Lapeer counties 51 allegations of sexual abuse made against local priests since 1987.

At about the same time, two priests, one of them a former Macomb County assistant prosecutor, left their parishes over allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Tony Conti, 53, resigned as pastor of All Saints Catholic Church in Memphis, Mich., and the Rev. Dennis Laesch, 47, took a leave of absence from St. Alfred Catholic Church in Taylor. Laesch has told his parish he expects to come back.


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