State Looks to Take Priest's License
Accused Clergyman Serves As Social Worker

By Margaret McHugh
The Star-Ledger
October 12, 2005

Ten months since a suspended Catholic priest was charged with molesting four teenage boys at a Mendham drug treatment program, the state is moving to have his social work license suspended.

Kara Wood, spokeswoman for the state Board of Social Work Examiners, said the board asked the Rev. Richard Mieliwocki, 58, of Madison, to agree to a voluntary suspension after the allegations became public, but he refused.

"Now that there has been an indictment, the board is moving ahead with the process to suspend his license, and a hearing will be scheduled for that purpose," Wood said.

Mieliwocki, who is employed as a counselor at Community Care Behavior Health in Piscataway, was indicted in August, charged with molesting and making sexual comments to the boys, ages 16 to 18, during therapy sessions at Daytop Village between March and December of 2004.

In court yesterday, Assistant Morris County Prosecutor Meg Rodriguez offered Mieliwocki a plea deal that calls for a five- to seven-year prison sentence.

Defense attorney, Thomas C. Pluciennik, said Mieliwocki would not plead guilty because he didn't commit any crime.

"This is a rush to hang another priest," Pluciennik said after the hearing. When he was growing up in Newark, Pluciennik was an altar boy with Mieliwocki.

He said Mieliwocki is being prosecuted for his social work techniques, which Pluciennik said "conformed with generally accepted counseling standards."

Mieliwocki became a social worker after the church removed him from duty 11 years ago following allegations of sexual misconduct. The Archdiocese of Newark officially suspended him two years ago.

Mieliwocki was removed from duty in February 1994 after the archdiocese response team found credence in the two men's claims Mieliwocki abused them at Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange, beginning in 1988, according to a Newark Archdiocesan spokesman.

The archdiocese awarded $60,000 to one of the victims in 1994. The spokesman would not say whether the archdiocese also paid the second victim.

Mieliwocki, then a priest at the Church of St. Joseph the Carpenter in Roselle, was placed on administrative leave for six months and ordered to undergo counseling, but instead, he walked away. The church heard from him in late 1999 or early 2000 when he asked to be reassigned as a priest but was denied.

As a social worker, Mieliwocki avoided having his license suspended in 1999 for inappropriate behavior with a male patient only by agreeing to weekly monitoring for three years, a consent order showed.

Mieliwocki's case shows how someone with a checkered history could move from job to job without detection. The administration at Daytop knew nothing about the allegations against him when they hired him.

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness has said the church would have divulged its findings had employers inquired. However, Daytop officials have said Mieliwocki never revealed he was a priest.


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